New Westminster bullying probe must not ignore past cases, says FDA union

Monday 19th March, 2018

Commenting on the House of Commons Commission’s decision to announce an inquiry into the bullying of House staff, FDA union General Secretary Dave Penman said:

“When it comes to the treatment of parliamentary staff, MPs have for too long been a law unto themselves. That’s why we cautiously welcome today’s commitment by the House of Commons Commission to hold an inquiry into bullying.

“It is vital that the inquiry can command the confidence of staff who have rightly lost faith in the woefully inadequate system of self-regulation currently governing MP’s behaviour.

“The inquiry needs to be fully independent of the Commission, and it is absolutely essential that it considers past and ongoing individual cases if there is to be any hope of achieving redress for those affected.

“Given that the Leader of the House last week appeared to rule out the inquiry dealing with individual cases, we remain concerned that this issue has still not been explicitly dealt with by the Commission today. However, it is too important to simply kick down the road.

“The inquiry must consult the FDA and other unions as it sets its terms of reference, and we will continue to be unequivocal in our call for full independence and genuine investigation of previous and current cases of bullying and harassment. Anything less risks being seen as a whitewash."

Notes for editors

1. The FDA is the union for senior managers and professionals in public service, representing more than 18,000 members at grades HEO and above. Membership includes parliamentary staff, senior civil servants, Government policy advisors, prosecutors, diplomats, tax professionals, economists, solicitors and other professionals working across the Government and the NHS.

2. The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as "The FDA" and can be described as "the senior public servants' union". 

3. Speaking in the Commons last week, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom appeared to rule out investigating past or ongoing cases: "the inquiry into the bullying of House staff that I will propose to the House of Commons Commission on Monday 19 March will not be carrying out investigations into individual cases. That is exactly why I expect it to attract the Commission’s full support."

4. The FDA last week wrote to all the major party leaders and all members of the House of Commons Commission urging them to back an independent inquiry into allegations first revealed by BBC Newsnight.

5. The letter to Prime Minister Theresa May can be read here. 

6. The FDA can be found on Twitter @FDA_union and at www.fda.org.uk. General Secretary Dave Penman tweets as @FDAGenSec

7. For further information or to arrange an interview with FDA Assistant General Secretary Amy Leversidge, contact the FDA Communications team on 020 7401 5589.