New humiliation for ‘Lord Groper’ as he quits comeback role on parliamentary committee amid uproar over ‘sex pest’ claims
- The party’s former chief executive was suspended for eight months in 2014
- Female activists accused him of being a sex pest and he stood down in 2015
- But he was quietly appointed to a Lords committee several weeks ago
A Lib Dem peer nicknamed ‘Lord Groper’ has been forced to resign from a parliamentary committee.
Lord Rennard, the party’s former chief executive, was suspended for eight months in 2014 after female activists accused him of being a sex pest.
He stood down from the Lib Dem governing body in 2015 but was quietly appointed to a Lords committee several weeks ago.
Lord Rennard (pictured), the party’s former chief executive, was suspended for eight months in 2014 after female activists accused him of being a sex pest
Lord Rennard volunteered for the role on the secondary legislation scrutiny committee, which would have allowed him to examine new laws.
Party colleagues in the Upper House put his name forward for the position – the first he has held since the controversy in 2015.
The decision caused uproar and Lord Rennard withdrew from the role several days ago. He has now been replaced by fellow Lib Dem peer Lord German.
Four women made allegations of sexual harassment against the 60-year-old peer in 2014, but despite a report finding that their complaints were ‘broadly credible’ he remained in the party.
The Metropolitan Police decided there was insufficient evidence to pursue the case.
However, acting co-leader Sir Ed Davey (pictured) was overheard asking Lib Dem MPs and staff at a Christmas party what they thought of Lord Rennard, before declaring: ‘All that other stuff aside, Chris is a great campaigner’
Lord Rennard was criticised by former leaders Sir Vince Cable and Jo Swinson, who said he would not be allowed back on the front bench.
However, acting co-leader Sir Ed Davey was overheard asking Lib Dem MPs and staff at a Christmas party what they thought of Lord Rennard, before declaring: ‘All that other stuff aside, Chris is a great campaigner.’
One Lib Dem source said Lord Rennard had put himself forward for the committee role, which needed to be filled by a member of the party, after a lack of interest from others.
When it came to the attention of members of the party that he had been successful, a number, included Sir Ed, raised objections.
The source said: ‘Following discussions, Chris decided to step down as it was easier for everyone.
‘Ed made it clear he was damaging the interests of the party and Chris decided to withdraw.’
A source close to Sir Ed said: ‘Ed has been clear that under his leadership, the Liberal Democrats will be a safe and welcoming place for all women.
Within hours of hearing Lord Rennard was on a House of Lords committee Ed took action to remove him.
‘Ed has made it absolutely clear Lord Rennard is not and never will be on his team.’