Holyrood group to review handling of sexual harassment complaints

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A Holyrood committee is to hold an inquiry into the procedures and rules governing complaints of sexual harassment.

MSPs on the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee agreed to look at the processes for dealing with allegations of sleaze and sexual misconduct such as have arisen recently at Holyrood and Westminster.

As part of the work the committee will examine the MSP code of conduct following a request from the parliament’s Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh.

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said the issue was ” of huge importance both to the parliament but to wider politics and public life in Scotland”.

He said: “It’s vital that people who are victims of the incidents that we’ve heard of in recent weeks have a safe space and feel confident in coming forward and there is a process that those people feel that they can have confidence in and their reports will be taken seriously.

“This committee needs to stand ready to deal with any such issues and complaints seriously and use the full range of powers we have available to us.”

He said the committee, which consists of two female and five male MSPs, should also consider its own gender composition.

Tory MSP Alexander Stewart said: “I think it’s vitally important that we do have an inquiry.

“We have to show strength, we have to show confidence within the parliament ourselves and this committee has role to play within that process so that we can give that impression to those individuals out there who have concerns and want to see the best is being done to protect individuals and give them the opportunity to come forward.”

Speaking after the committee meeting, convener Clare Adamson said: “Our committee is agreed that we need to take stock of our culture, processes and rules and to ensure that there is clarity around these.

“Our inquiry will want to hear from equalities groups in Scotland, employment law experts and also from trade unions.

“It is important we also look to other legislatures with experience in this regard such as Iceland.

“The committee will want to consider carefully the precise remit of the inquiry and the witnesses it wants to hear from.”

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