Peer’s party ban lift ‘disappointing’

Bridget Harris
Bridget Harris

A Bedford businesswoman involved in the Liberal Democrat sexual harassment scandal is “disappointed” Lord Rennard has had his suspension from the party lifted.

Bridget Harris, a former political aide to leader Nick Clegg, is one of four female activists who claim Lord Rennard made unwanted and inappropriate advances to them, which led to his suspension earlier this year.

She said: “I am really disappointed. The question now is will they have him back in the Lib Dem group at the House of Lords? Even if he wriggles his way back into the party, does it want him speaking on behalf of the Lib Dems?”

“If it does, it says all we need to know about the party’s attitude.”

Chris Rennard was reinstated on Tuesday after the Lib Dems decided not to proceed with disciplinary action, having accepted an independent report into the peer’s behaviour.

The report concluded while the evidence against the peer was “broadly credible”, wrongdoing could not be shown beyond reasonable doubt.

Lord Rennard said: “I am pleased all disciplinary investigations against me have been brought to an end and that the suspension of my party membership has been lifted.

“The worst that might be said of me in that report was that I may have inadvertently encroached on the personal space of some of the complainants, and I apologised for this to all four of them.”

The Liberal Democrats say it has since changed its rules and codes of conduct.

Party leader Tim Farron said: “No one should ever have to feel their concerns are being dismissed or ignored, and I am clear the Liberal Democrats should become the ‘gold standard’ for how voluntary organisations treat their members and staff.”