The Conservatives have been urged to suspend MP Rob Roberts after he was accused of propositioning a female intern and acting inappropriately towards a male parliamentary worker.
Mr Roberts, elected as MP for Delyn in north Wales in December 2019, has been referred to Parliament’s standards and complaints watchdog over his conduct, while politicians from Labour and the Liberal Democrats have called for his party whip to be removed.
BBC Wales reports that Mr Roberts sent a series of messages to a 21-year-old intern, who has since left her position, asking her to “fool around” with him.
“Don’t ignore me when I’m making you feel better,” he said, adding she might want to “fool around with no strings, you might come and visit me in London.” After the woman replied that her mental health was “in an awful state”, Mr Roberts said: “I was just thinking about fun times … Maybe if you thought of them too it might help you.”
The former intern told the BBC that the exchange made her feel “incredibly sick”. She said: “I felt really vulnerable and I felt like I was being used to make him feel better about everything.”
Mr Roberts has admitted he also asked out a male House of Commons employee, telling the BBC that it had been “inappropriate” to do so and that the “staff member did not feel comfortable about it”.
“However, I have found the last few months and the ‘coming out’ process to have been particularly challenging and the cause of a great deal of mental stress to me,” he added.
“Creating a story from this interaction which has been dealt with amicably seems calculated to add to that stress, which is distressing.”
The 40-year-old MP recently split from his wife and publicly came out as gay with a statement on Twitter on 20 May.
He has yet to publicly address the allegation he propositioned the young intern.
A Conservative party spokesperson said there was an “ongoing” investigation into Mr Roberts’ conduct.
“While Mr Roberts has apologised for his behaviour and has been undertaking safeguarding and social media protection training, we are clear such conduct is completely unacceptable,” the spokesperson said.
Acting Lib Dem leader Ed Davey tweeted that the “allegations are incredibly serious. We must make sure women are safe at work.
“The Conservative Party must immediately remove the whip while they investigate, or they risk sending the message that this is acceptable conduct for a sitting MP.”
Tonia Antoniazzi, the Labour MP for Gower, in south Wales, said: “The allegations about Rob Roberts are very concerning and should be investigated. Worryingly, these are not the first serious accusations of this nature that have been made against him in his seven months as a Tory MP.”
A Conservative party spokesperson added: “Our party takes all allegations extremely seriously and has safeguarding and complaints processes in place to investigate complaints made to it under the party’s code of conduct.”
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards said, as per the rules MPs themselves had voted for, it could neither confirm nor deny whether an MP is under investigation.
A report into an investigation of harassment, bullying or sexual harassment, may be made public at a later date once the investigation is complete.
The Independent has contacted Mr Roberts for comment.
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