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Conservative party readmits MP who sexually harassed staff member

sexually harassed

Conservative party readmits MP who sexually harassed staff member

An MP has been readmitted to the Conservative party, despite having been found to have sexually harassed a member of staff.

Rob Roberts had his party membership suspended for 12 weeks and was also banned from the House of Commons for six weeks, after an independent panel found he made repeated and unwanted sexual advances towards someone who worked in his office and used “his position as his employer to place him under pressure to accede”.

On Monday, Roberts regained his party membership, but still has the whip withdrawn, meaning he sits as an independent in parliament. However, the MP for Delyn in north Wales still sits on the government’s side of the Commons green benches, and votes in line with the Conservative whip.

A Conservative party spokesperson confirmed Roberts’ readmission and that the whip remained withdrawn.

Although Roberts served his suspension from parliament, he avoided being subject to a recall petition. This is usually automatically triggered when an MP is suspended for more than 10 days. However, because Roberts appealed against the initial verdict by the standards commissioner, it emerged that his punishment was not covered by the existing recall legislation because the case was then judged by a separate body known as an “independent expert panel”.

The failure of Conservative headquarters “to stop Roberts’ readmission means that the withdrawal of his whip is in name only”, a senior Tory staffer told the Guardian. They added: “This sends a worrying signal to parliamentary staff members who are still dealing with predatory and abusive behaviour on a daily basis.”

The Labour party chair, Anneliese Dodds, said his readmission to the Tories was scandalous, and criticised the government for voting down a motion to change the law so the punishment of a recall petition could be applied retrospectively.

“Rob Roberts should have resigned as an MP the moment he was suspended from parliament for sexual misconduct,” Dodds said. That he had now returned to the Conservative party showed it had let him off the hook, she added.

“Just last week, the government voted against allowing Roberts’ constituents to choose whether he is the right person to represent them, and now they are choosing to readmit him as a member of their party. Yet again, the Conservative party is acting like there’s one rule for their MPs and another rule for everyone else.”

The leader of the Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has called on Roberts to do the “honourable” thing and step down as an MP, but argued that retrospective punishment would go against the principle that there should be no imposition of a sanction “which was not available at the time when a given case was determined”.

The investigators’ report into Roberts said that he had accepted that “aspects of his behaviour” towards a staff member were “inappropriate” and had offered to apologise but that he “rejected the categorisation of his conduct as ‘sexual’, preferring the term ‘romantic’”.

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Supreme Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Adeleke’s Candidacy

The Supreme Court has affirmed Ademola Adeleke as the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the just concluded Osun State Governorship Election.

This has laid to rest the suit filed by Dotun Babayemi, a governorship aspirant of the party who sought the invalidation of Adeleke’s victory.

In a judgement delivered by Justice Amina Augie, the five-member panel held that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit after counsel for the appellant, Adebayo Adelodun, withdrew the earlier notice of appeal that was filed within time.

At the resumed hearing, Adelodun, who represented the appellant and Babayemi informed the court that he sought to withdraw the earlier notice of appeal to replace it with the fresh application he filed.

But the panel held that Section 285(11) of the constitution stipulated that an appeal on a pre-election matter must be filed within 14 days from the day of the decision, and that having filed the second appeal out of time, the apex court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Justice Augie, therefore, dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Babayemi had asked the court to invalidate the primary election that produced the governor-elect, citing non-compliance with a court order.

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400 Staff To Lose Jobs As BBC Goes Digital

The British Broadcasting Corporation BBC world service has on Thursday disclosed that about 400 of its staff will lose their jobs as part of a cost-cutting programme and move to digital platforms,

The BBC said its international services needed to make savings of £28.5 million ($31 million) as part of wider reductions of £500 million.

In July it detailed plans to merge BBC World News television and its domestic UK equivalent into a single channel to launch in April next year.

BBC World Service currently operates in 40 languages around the world with a weekly audience of some 364 million people.

But the corporation said audience habits were changing and more people were accessing news online, which along with a freeze on BBC funding and increased operating costs meant a move to “digital-first” made financial sense.

BBC World Service director Liliane Landor said there was a “compelling case” for expanding digital services, as audiences had more than doubled since 2018.

“The way audiences are accessing news and content is changing and the challenge of reaching and engaging people around the world with quality, trusted journalism is growing,” she added.

 

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Environment

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian made landfall at around 15:10 local time (19:10 GMT) on Wednesday, smashing into the coast with wind speeds of up to 241km/h (150mph).

Dramatic scenes saw a hospital roof blown off, cars submerged and trees ripped out of the ground.

The category four hurricane was later downgraded to a tropical storm.

However, Floridians were warned that the most dangerous 24 hours lay ahead and the mayor of Tampa urged people to shelter in place through the night into Thursday morning.

“We are going to get the majority of the rain and the higher winds starting about 20:00, and they are going to last throughout the night,” Jane Castor said during a Wednesday evening briefing.

In a message posted on Facebook, the Weather Prediction Center told residents in the Central Florida Peninsula to expect “widespread life-threatening, catastrophic flash and urban flooding” continuing into Friday morning, with potentially up to 76cm (30ins) of rain falling locally.

Residents were ordered to leave their homes, but many have decided to remain and seek shelter indoors.

Mark Pritchett, who lives in the city of Venice, some 95km (60 miles) south of Tampa, described the “terrifying” moment he stepped outside his home as the hurricane made its way across the Gulf of Mexico.

“Rain shooting like needles. My street is a river,” he said in a text message to the Associated Press news agency.

In Lee County – the south-west region where Ian made landfall – police were prevented from responding to reports of looting at a petrol station because of the storm damage.

As a result, a curfew has been declared “until further notice”.

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais said that the Fort Myers community had “been – to some extent – decimated”. According to news agency AFP, some neighbourhoods in the city of 80,000 had been left resembling lakes.

State Governor Ron DeSantis described Ian as the “biggest flood event” south-west Florida had ever seen, and announced that 7,000 National Guard troops are ready to lead rescue operations in flood zones.

President Joe Biden will receive a briefing on Thursday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Ian is now continuing to move north through Florida. Jacksonville International Airport, based in north-east Florida, cancelled all flights scheduled for Thursday.

The storm is forecast to emerge into the Atlantic by Thursday morning.

It is expected to reach Georgia and South Carolina on Friday. Virginia has also joined Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida by declaring a state of emergency.

Cuba’s western coast was hit by Hurricane Ian on Tuesday. Power has now been restored in some areas after the island was plunged into a total blackout. Two people are understood to have been killed in Cuba and more than 20 Cuban migrants are believed to be missing at sea.

Predicted path of Hurricane Ian. Updated 27 September

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