Commons backs suspension for MP who ‘undermined’ own apology for bullying

MPs have voted to approve a one-day suspension for the Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski after he “undermined” an apology he gave in the Commons for bullying staff.

The standards watchdog found that the Shrewsbury MP had indicated in media interviews that he did not fully mean the gesture, and recommended his suspension should be limited to one day as Kawczynski had committed to undertaking further work on his behaviour.

Kawczynski initially apologised in the Commons in June last year after an investigation found he had ranted at one senior Commons official, called another a “snowflake” and “useless”, and denigrated a third staff member via WhatsApp. He told the Commons: “I have reflected on my behaviour, I accept it constituted bullying and as such was highly inexcusable.”

In an interview with his local BBC radio station earlier that day he said the process was unfair and he had no choice but to apologise, prompting a fresh inquiry.

In a personal statement in the Commons on Wednesday, Kawczynski said he acknowledged speaking to the media “undermined the sincerity” of his apology and said: “I am sorry that my conduct will have had a further harmful effect on the complainant and that it may have diminished public confidence in the process.”

He added: “I accept that speaking out in the way I did to the media had a detrimental effect on the house’s conduct policy by undermining the integrity of the complaints process and I deeply regret my actions. I am committed to learn from the mistakes I have made and to work on my personal development, especially in my communication with others, in every interaction that I have.

“I am conscious that my conduct may have merited suspension from the service of the house for a longer period.”

The report by the House of Commons standards committee, published last week, found Kawczynski was “still struggling with a capacity for genuine empathy with others, and as a result still has a tendency, which he may not fully realise, to see himself rather than others as the ‘victim’”.

The MP said he appreciated “the committee’s consideration of the difficulties that I was experiencing in my personal life of the time and the mental health issues”, having previously said he was in “an emotional and distressed state” on the day of the interview.

“A profoundly emotional and devastating family trauma in 2019, coupled with a series of work-related problems, combined to affect my mental health in an unprecedented way,” he said in a statement after publication of the report, adding that he was receiving “abuse in the street” whenever he went out. “I wish to reiterate that nothing I have said about my own mental health struggle should detract in any way from my full acceptance of the committee’s decision.”

Comments are closed.