Tory MP apologises for bullying parliamentary staff

Kawczynski consumed ‘significant amount of alcohol’ and called staff member part of ‘the snowflake generation’, report says

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Monday 14 June 2021 18:04
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Speaker John Bercow makes Commons remarks on Westminster bullying

A Conservative MP has been forced to make a public apology in the House of Commons after an investigation found he bullied parliamentary staff.

Daniel Kawczynski acted in a "threatening and intimidating manner" after technical issues meant he was unable to join a committee hearing early last year.

But his apology proved controversial after he told BBC Radio Shropshire he only said sorry because he had “no alternative” and would face further sanctions if he refused.

The incident occurred in April 2020, just weeks after the first coronavirus lockdown was announced and as parliament was adapting to new ways of remote working.

The Independent Expert Panel (IEP), which oversees sanctions in such cases, said that it accepted that the life of an MP could be stressful but said that was no excuse for bullying staff members.

Sir Stephen Irwin, the chairman of the IEP, said that his panel accepted that the circumstances which led to the complaints were “difficult, but they were difficult for everyone. Whilst we fully grasp that the life of an MP can be highly pressurised, these responsibilities and stresses do not justify a loss of courtesy, an exaggerated sense of importance or entitlement, or bullying.”

Mr Kawczynski told the Commons he did not swear nor raise my voice but his behaviour “constituted bullying and as such was highly inexcusable”.

He said he apologised to the staff members involved and the house “unreservedly” adding “I will never repeat such behaviour”.

A report released today warned the MP showed a “worrying lack of insight and contrition in relation to the appropriateness and impact of his behaviour”.

He made “critical and untruthful comments” on a WhatsApp group shared with other members of the committee, it adds, and described one staff member as a member of “the snowflake generation”.

“It is also clear that as this day proceeded, the (MP) consumed a significant amount of alcohol,” the report stated.

It added: “In respect to the issue of insight, we note that (Mr Kawczynski) has taken steps to better understand his personal drivers and the impact of his behaviour on others; however, we conclude that although his insight is developing, it is still quite limited”.

The panel said the MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham had been repeatedly rude, aggressive and impatient with staff members.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards found that Mr Kawczynski had acted in an intimidatory and threatening manner and that he had abused his power as a MP by making exaggerated and malicious claims. He did not appeal that decision.

Mr Kawczynski did, however, appeal a decision by a sub-group of the IEP that he should apologise on the floor of the House of Commons. But that appeal was rejected.

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