MP Rob Roberts confirmed he was planning to appear physically on Wednesday
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A shamed MP plans to return to the Commons chamber in person on Wednesday despite serving a six-week suspension for “sexual misconduct” to a staff member.
Rob Roberts confirmed to the Mirror that he intended to return to Parliament physically – as calls mount for tougher action that could boot him out as an MP.
Conservative sources insist the MP, who has lost the party whip, was advised to stay away from Westminster.
But Mr Roberts has denied this, telling the Mirror: “No such request was made of me”.
Commons business papers confirm Mr Roberts is due to appear “physically”, not virtually, in a debate on the Health and Care Bill. He is listed as a Conservative on the papers despite losing the Tory whip.
Westminster sources also told the Mirror he was also spotted on the estate on Tuesday, though not in the Commons chamber.
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Responding to his intention to appear in person, a spokesperson on behalf of the Whips Office said: “Rob Roberts now sits as an independent MP and his actions are his own.”
The revelation is likely to reignite furious calls for Tory chiefs and Commons Leader Jacob-Rees Mogg to take harsher action after Mr Roberts’ returned to the job following his six-week suspension.
A new-style Independent Expert Panel ruled he had breached Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy and had abused his position.
But a loophole in Commons rules meant he did not face an automatic “recall” vote, which would have allowed voters in marginal Delyn to trigger a by-election if he’d been suspended by another method.
Both Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg have suggested the loophole should be closed, but plans have still not been brought forward despite Labour repeatedly tabling them.
Plans have still not been brought forward by Jacob Rees-Mogg to close the loophole
Shadow Leader of the Commons Thangam Debbonaire told the Mirror: “Most people found to have sexually harassed their staff like Rob Roberts has been, would expect to lose their job.
“Because of a procedural anomaly, Rob Roberts’ constituents are not able to decide whether or not they want him to represent them anymore.
“The Tory Party has failed to deal with their MP’s behaviour and now we hear they are still propping him up.
“I’ve proposed a change which could sort this. The government could and should grant time for a debate and a vote.
“They cannot and will not say why they don’t believe this loophole should be fixed to ensure Rob Roberts’ constituents get to decide if they want him to lose his job. Yet again, it’s one rule for them and another for everyone else.”
Mr Roberts apologised, saying the “breach of trust” was “completely improper and should not have happened"
After the ruling, Mr Roberts apologised, saying the “breach of trust” was “completely improper and should not have happened.”
He had denied claims he made “repeated and unwanted sexual advances” to a staff member.
However, he admitted: “I asked a male member of Parliamentary staff to dinner in the hope of striking up a personal relationship. I recognise that this breach of trust in the MP-staff relationship was completely improper and should not have happened.”
It comes after the Mirror established Mr Roberts is still sharing his constituency office in Delyn with the local Conservative association.
The MP posted a photo online from the office in Mold last week. Sources said the association rents office space from the MP, rather than the other way round.
A Tory spokeswoman said: "This is a contractual arrangement. Mold Conservative Association and Mark Isherwood AM in no way condone the actions of Rob Roberts.”
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Mr Roberts is also still reported to be a Tory member, despite Boris Johnson insisting last week that he “is not a Conservative MP”. It’s understood the party still has his membership under review.
And he cast a string of votes virtually in the House of Commons using a government whip as “proxy”. He and the Tories insist this is standard convention for any independent MP, including those suspended from opposition parties.
Mr Roberts added: “Nobody from the Party has been in touch with me regarding any votes, I vote in the manner in which I decide based on my own judgement and the manifesto upon which I was elected.”
But leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Mandu Reid, accused the Tories of “helping provide cover” for Mr Roberts and “sex pests in Westminster are being given a free pass”.
She told the Mirror: “Rob Roberts is still a member of the Conservative Party, he shares a constituency office with other Conservatives and a Conservative MP voted for him in his absence.
“It’s no surprise he hasn’t resigned because he knows that he can get away with it.”
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said yesterday: “The Prime Minister was appalled to hear of Rob Roberts’ previous behaviour.
“We’ve said a case of this severity has raised questions around whether changes need to be made in the future in order for a recall to be triggered in the future. Obviously that’s a matter for the House.”
But asked when a change might happen, he replied: “I don’t have an update on that”.