UK Politics

Labour peer suspended after 'stalkerish behaviour'

Lord Lea of Crondall Image copyright HoL

A peer has been suspended from the Labour Party after being accused of "slightly stalkerish" behaviour.

Another woman said the peer had promised to write her a poem with "a sexually suggestive rhyme".

Investigating the complaints, a House of Lords watchdog said Lord Lea of Crondall's behaviour had "met the criteria for harassment".

Labour says the 82-year-old will remain suspended until he has completed "behaviour change coaching".

The House of Lords Commissioner for Standards investigates breaches of the House of Lords code of conduct, including rules on financial support and how peers treat staff.

In the commissioner's report, one complainant - referred to as AB - alleged the peer had "behaved inappropriately" towards her during an official visit of parliamentarians "some years ago".

The incident could not be investigated by the commissioner due to the amount of time that had passed.

However, AB said Lord Lea had, nine years later, sent her a photo of the pair taken during the visit and a letter mentioning he had a copy of it on his piano at home.

The letter also included an invitation "to meet him, as she thought, at his home for a cup of tea, or 'to finish that bottle of champagne'".

Speaking to the commissioner AB said it felt "slightly stalkerish… to receive something like that with the letter after such a long time".

"I think that it is strange to have a picture of a [woman in her twenties] that you don't know and have no contact with."

Lord Lea said he regretted the "serious error of judgement".

When asked if he understood why the letter may have been concerning, he said "not quite, unless she had some feelings of affection for me which she thought I had torn up or something".

'Misread'

A second woman, known as TU, said she was left feeling uncomfortable and singled out after the peer promised to write her a poem.

Lord Lea said: "I did not detect any unease or nervousness on her part and that - I now know - is my fault because clearly, I can now see that I misread that."

A Labour Lords spokesman said he was suspended until further notice.

"We appreciate that David has already begun the recommended training and further discussions will be had once that course has been completed to the satisfaction of the commissioner."

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