A new bullying inquiry into allegations of harassment and intimidation by MPs and peers is set to be “bigger and more explosive” than the landmark Cox report, The Independent understands.
Commons leader Andrea Leadsom is poised to launch a probe into complaints from aides employed directly by politicians, which is expected to attract hundreds of allegations from past and present staff.
It comes on the heels of a damning report by Dame Laura Cox, a former high court judge, which found an entrenched culture of harassment against apolitical parliamentary staffers, which included more than 200 allegations of groping, intimidation and sexual harassment.
Insiders are gearing up for more explosive revelations in the new inquiry, in which a senior QC will examine complaints from those employed directly by MPs, rather than the House of Commons.
The sexual harassment scandal that gripped Westminster last year highlighted how politicians run their offices like small businesses, creating a conflict of interest if employees want to complain about the MP’s behaviour.
Fresh details are due to emerge on Monday, when MPs will gather for a general debate on the findings from Dame Laura’s report.
A source close to the investigation told The Independent: “I expect this to be bigger and more explosive than the Cox report.
“Laura Cox revealed the shocking shortcomings in support for House staff, but we know there has been a similar problem for MPs’ staff, too, who have an entirely different employment arrangement.
“The new independent inquiry will provide us with a fuller picture of historical cases and contribute to the ongoing culture change we need to see in the parliament.”
The second investigation will mirror the Cox inquiry by calling for evidence from complainants and producing a report with a string of new recommendations in six months’ time.
“It is essential that lessons are learned from unacceptable behaviour, whenever it happened, so an independent inquiry will be established by the steering group to hear from those members, peers and their staff who have experienced bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct,” papers from the Commons Commission said.Read more
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