Skip to the content

Abusive behaviour by MPs towards IPSA staff
FOI032
Disclosure Date:20 Aug 2010
Categories: IPSA - STAFF
Exemptions Applied: Section 36 Section 40
Request

I would like to request under the Freedom of Information Act:

  1. Details of any instance where staff of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) have been abused, verbally or physically, or threatened by a Member of Parliament, officer of the House of Commons or Members staff, since the establishment of the Authority;
  2. Details of whether IPSA has referred any Member of Parliament to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over their conduct or expenses claims;
  3. And, whether IPSA have invoked any action or financial penalty against an individual Member of Parliament or House staff as a result of their conduct in person, or within written communications, with representatives of IPSA.
Response

I am responding to your request as the member of IPSA designated by the Lord Chancellor as the Qualified Person under s.36(5)(o)(iii) of the Freedom of Information Act. I can confirm that IPSA does hold information relevant to your request but that some of the information is exempt from disclosure.

As the Qualified Person I have conducted the public interest balancing exercise in relation to the engagement of the exemption at s.36(2)(c) (prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs) of the Act, alongside consideration of the s.40(2) (personal information) exemption and our duties under the Data Protection Act, specifically paragraph 6 of Schedule 2. It is my opinion that certain forms of adverse effect would or would be likely to follow from a full disclosure of the information you request. However, I am also of the opinion that some of the information you request does not qualify for exemptions under the Act and should be disclosed.

In the process of my deliberations I have consulted the other IPSA Board members and senior IPSA staff.

Answering each of your requests in turn:

  • Details of any instance where staff of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) have been abused, verbally or physically, or threatened by a Member of Parliament, officer of the House of Commons or Members staff, since the establishment of the Authority.

Please find attached a digest of the recorded details of such instances.

You will note that individual names and place names have been redacted. It is my opinion that this information is exempt in respect of MPs under s.36(2)(c) and in respect of IPSA staff under s.40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act. In short, although the information is personal information, there is a legitimate interest in the public knowing the details of the conduct to which IPSA staff have been subjected. However, it is also very important and in the public interest that there is a satisfactory and effective working relationship between MPs and IPSA in implementing the new expenses regime. This would, in my view and in the view of those at IPSA whom I have consulted, be damaged by making public the names of the individual MPs concerned. I have therefore concluded that there is a greater public interest in withholding this information than there is in its release.

  • Details of whether IPSA has referred any Member of Parliament to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over their conduct or expenses claims.

IPSA has not referred any Member of Parliament to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over their conduct or expenses claims.

  • Whether IPSA has invoked any action or financial penalty against an individual Member of Parliament or House staff as a result of their conduct in person, or within written communications with representatives of IPSA.

IPSA has not invoked any action or financial penalty against any MPs or House staff. I should make clear that IPSA has a clear anti-bullying policy and that no member of staff who has experienced inappropriate conduct by MPs has wished any action to be taken against them.