Chris Matheson has resigned as Labour MP for the City of Chester after a parliamentary watchdog recommended he be suspended from the Commons for “serious sexual misconduct”, which he denies.
The Independent Expert Panel parliamentary watchdog recommended that Matheson be suspended from the Commons for four weeks for “serious sexual misconduct”.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards upheld two allegations of sexual misconduct against the MP by a former member of his staff.
Matheson allegedly invited her on a private trip abroad and “the invitation was sexually motivated, unwanted, and had placed the complainant under pressure and intimidated her”, according to the report.
During a work event outside Parliament, he also “linked arms with her; made personal comments about her appearance while looking at her suggestively; made her hold his hand as they left and insisted on accompanying her to her bus stop; and once there invited her back to his flat, kissed her twice on the forehead and attempted to kiss her on the mouth. The Commissioner concluded that these were all unwanted and unwelcome sexual advances”.
Labour later suspended the whip from Matheson and asked him to stand down as an MP, and he has now submitted his resignation.
A Labour spokesman said: “This is an incredibly serious case. There must be a zero tolerance for sexual harassment and the Labour party has acted immediately following the ICGS (Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme) findings. We will now select a candidate that the people of Chester can be proud to vote for.”
‘I committed a minor breach of the code’
In his resignation statement, Matheson admitted a “minor breach of the code” but maintains the allegations against him are “untrue”.
He said: “I have today, with great sadness, tendered my resignation as Member of Parliament for the City of Chester. This follows publication of a report which had found me guilty of sexual misconduct.
“From the start I accepted I had committed a minor breach of the code and had hoped that an honest and open approach would stand me in a fair light. This has proven not to be the case and I am dismayed that I have been found guilty of several allegations that I know to be untrue. Indeed my insistence on what I know to be true – that I had no sexual motivation in this matter - was held against me as a refusal to accept my guilt, and caused an increased sanction which I felt was disproportionate.
“Despite provable factual inaccuracies in the sanctions report, my appeal against sanction was not even considered, for the same reason.
“Therefore, I faced a suspension from the House of four weeks. Whilst I believe that this is an excessive and unfair penalty, I cannot challenge the process further. I believe that the honourable and right thing to do now is to resign my seat and seek to rebuild my life elsewhere. I would ask for privacy for my family. This matter has also caused a great toll on my health, requiring my hospitalisation, and I ask that my privacy is respected while I recover.
“I will forever be grateful to my constituency, and my party, for giving me the honour to serve, and I apologise to the people of Chester, and to the House of Commons, for the disrepute I have brought. I once again apologise to the complainant in my case, for the hurt I have caused.”