Betty Boothroyd, 91, 'investigated by ethics watchdog for missing sexual harassment training'

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The 91-year-old did not attend a training session - which is compulsory for peers, but not MPs - because she was recovering from open-heart surgery - Geoff Pugh
The 91-year-old did not attend a training session - which is compulsory for peers, but not MPs - because she was recovering from open-heart surgery - Geoff Pugh

Baroness Boothroyd, the former Commons Speaker, is facing an investigation by Parliament’s ethics watchdog for failing to attend a sexual harassment course, it was reported on Saturday night.

The 91-year-old did not attend a training session - which is compulsory for peers, but not MPs - because she was recovering from open-heart surgery.

But despite informing the standards commissioner of her medical condition, she was told a formal probe would still be opened into her conduct, the Mail on Sunday reported.

She is one of 60 peers facing investigation over their failure to attend the session, called Valuing Everyone, run by a controversial consultancy which has also overseen Parliament’s unconscious bias training.

In correspondence shared with the newspaper, Lady Boothroyd told the standards watchdog: “The reason I have not been able to respond to the requirements is due to the fact that early in March 2020, I was advised by two consultants to leave London and isolate at my home in the country.

“I had [an] aorta valve replacement followed by [a] leak in [the] mitral valve. The respiratory consultant in particular insisted I stay out of London and in the country.”

Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, the House of Lords commissioner for standards, asked in her response whether the medical condition meant Lady Boothroyd could not attend the course online. Lady Boothroyd said this was the case.

The following day, however, Ms Scott-Moncrief announced she would be investigating Lady Boothroyd regardless.

The peer told the Mail on Sunday: “I’m very happy to be trained when this is all over - you’re never too old to learn.”

Neil O’Brien, the Tory MP, told the newspaper: “The idea that Betty Boothroyd, who is one of the most widely respected parliamentarians of her generation, is some kind of threat because she hasn’t done some online course is beyond laughable.”

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