A peer has been rapped for a second time over alleged inappropriate behaviour towards women in Parliament.
Former Labour peer Lord Andrew Stone of Blackheath was suspended by the party in October 2019 over allegations he sexually harassed parliamentary staff.
Now, a fresh report details allegations of him kissing a young woman interested in politics “near her mouth” and separate incident of him commenting on a woman’s religious clothing.
In the most recent report into the peer, the Lords Commissioner for Standards Lucy Scott-Moncrieff found that he breached the code of conduct with behaviour that met the criteria for harassment related to protected characteristics of “age and sex” in one case, and “religion and sex” in the other.
The Lords Conduct Committee has said that the former managing director of Marks and Spencer should continue with his “bespoke training and behaviour coaching sessions”.
But they warned: “We have also made clear that if Lord Stone were to commit further similar breaches of the Code in the future, the Committee would be inclined to apply a much more severe sanction.”
The two new complaints about Lord Stone’s behaviour were made after the publication of the Commissioner’s previous report in October. They relate to incidents which took place before the last report was published and before he started behaviour training.
In one incident a young woman met Lord Stone at a dinner at which he offered to give her a tour of Parliament after hearing of her interest in politics.
The woman alleged that during this tour, to which she brought her cousin, Lord Stone greeted her in an “overfamiliar manner, kissing her on both cheeks near her mouth”.
The report claimed he “repeatedly touched her arms and her waist” during the tour and while having tea in one of the House’s restaurants.
It said: “He also made comments about her physical appearance. He did not treat her cousin in a similar fashion.”
The woman said she “was incredibly disturbed by what had happened” and that the incident “still troubles me” more than a year later.
Lord Stone told the commissioner he was “upset by the inference” that his behaviour towards the woman was “anything other than to try and assist”. He accepted that “her account is factually accurate” but insisted that “the connotations of inappropriate behaviour that she makes are wholly inaccurate and seem to me be the product of her imagination.”
The report added: “However, during the course of his interview with us, he did accept that, while it had not been his intention to make [her] feel uncomfortable, his actions had had that effect and he was sorry for that.”
In the second incident, Lord Stone allegedly told a woman he was a “tactile” person, and touched her arm at a work function. He told her he had been spoken to by the Clerk of the Parliaments about being tactile with members of staff and that this had offended him, again touching her arm.
The report said the peer went on to talk about the woman’s wearing of religious clothing and about other women’s modes of dress.
The woman said: “I feel extremely uncomfortable when I have found myself around him again, in lifts, corridors, cafeterias etc. I do worry about where he will pop up and what I will do if I see him, whether I go a different way, ignore him, or fake politeness so that he will leave me alone.”
Lord Stone said he was “very sorry my comments have been giving offence to people”. He told the Commissioner that he had been trying to make a point about the Behaviour Code, having just been reprimanded by the Clerk of the Parliaments for being too “tactile”, but “accepts now that this was inappropriate”.
It comes after the Commissioner previously upheld complaints by four women against Lord Stone which included allegations of sexist and transphobic remarks as well as unwanted touching.
Among several alleged incidents recorded by the Commissioner, he told a colleague that she was beautiful “to boost her self-esteem” and grabbed her arm.
He also allegedly stroked another staff member’s arm and said to her that he hoped a document on the bill to outlaw upskirting came with photos.
Commenting on today’s publication, the Lords Conduct Committee said: “We understand that our report today will make difficult reading, especially for those who read the Commissioner’s first report on the conduct of Lord Stone.
“Our decision to support the Commissioner’s recommendation that Lord Stone should continue to attend behaviour change training should in no way be seen as us downplaying the seriousness of this behaviour. The training is bespoke, one-on-one and open ended; the number of sessions will depend on how effective the facilitators believe the training is in each case.”
The Standard has made attempts to contact Lord Stone.