(Title Image: Electoral Reform Society)
A group of gender equality and third sector organisations have written to the Senedd’s Standards Committee calling for reform of the independent Standards Commissioner and the method by which complaints are investigated (pdf).
The letter said: “We write to you as organisations fighting for gender equality, who are increasingly concerned about the levels of abuse and harassment levelled at women in public life. This is clearly a widespread issue, and not one just confined to the Assembly, however there is a role for each and every institution to tackle this.
“We have long been concerned that the role of Standards Commissioner has not been robust enough to provide a meaningful response to the issues seen in today’s politics.”
The organisations call for the single post of Commissioner to be replaced with a panel to ensure experience in dealing with issues such as sexual harassment, a longer timeframe to allow investigations into standards of behaviour and for stronger sanctions.
The former Standards Commissioner, Sir Roderick Evans QC, was embroiled in a row over sexism when he originally dismissed a complaint against Gareth Bennett AM (Ind, South Wales Central) over a misogynistic video. The complaint was later re-opened and a breach of the Code of Conduct was found.