A Labour peer has been suspended by the party after the first investigation under the Lords’ new misonduct system found he harassed two women, one of whom accused him of “stalker-ish” behaviour.
The report by Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, the Lords commissioner for standards, found that David Lea, a former trade unionist made a peer in 2019, had been the subject of 18 complaints between 2011 and 2019, including shouting at or otherwise bullying staff, making a racially offensive remark, and inappropriate behaviour towards a woman.
One of these complaints, by a woman named only as AB, was made in 2018, but resubmitted last year after the introduction of the revised Lords code of conduct focused on better combating bullying and harassment.
AB said she was left distressed after Lord Lea, whom she had joined on an official parliamentary visit some years ago but had no dealings with since, sent her a package including a framed photo of them on the visit. It also included a letter inviting her to his house, and saying he had a copy of the photo on his piano at home. AB said this felt “slightly stalkerish”.
Lord Lea, 82, told the inquiry that while he apologised he did not understand why AB had been upset, “unless she had some feelings of affection for me”.
The other complaint, which was made separately, came from a woman identified as TU, who said that when she was alone in the room where she worked he would repeatedly come in to talk, asking her to come for a cup of tea with him, and once promised to write her a sexually suggestive poem.
TU told the inquiry: “I just want to be able to come to work, do my job and be a work person rather than a woman at work.”
Scott-Moncrieff said both cases constituted harassment, with Lea agreeing to undergo training.
A Labour Lords spokesman said:
The chief whip has informed Lord Lea that he is suspended from the Labour peers group 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.