- Lord James of Blackheath is under investigation for refusing to take mandatory training to prevent sexual harassment or bullying
- He told Insider that taking part in the training would be an act of “treason.”
- Over 700 of his colleagues have taken the course. He says they are “wimps”.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A Conservative member of the House of Lords is under investigation for refusing to take part in mandatory anti-sexual harassment training, telling Insider that if he did so it would be an act of “treason” against the Queen.
Lord David James, Baron of Blackheath, 83, is one of four peers remaining under investigation by the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, for failing to take part in the training programme, introduced to tackle bullying, harassment, and sexual misconduct in Parliament. Peers were given a deadline of completing the training by April 1st of this year.
James, who was made a life peer in 2006, told Insider: “I have not refused. I’ve said that I will only do it if it is proved to me that I am not committing treason by doing so. And that I am not putting Her Majesty in breach of her coronation oath, which I will not under any circumstances do.”
James says that peers take an oath to uphold the Queen’s coronation oath, and believes that the requirement to do the training is a breach of the legislation which the Queen has sworn to maintain. He told Insider that ‘Strode’s Act’ or the Privilege of Parliament Act 1512 put on statute the principle of free speech in the Parliament.
James claims that “under this law, it would not be legal to bring in the woke requirements that are implied in this training course.” He described the more than 700 of his colleagues who had undergone the training as “wimps,” adding “They should stand their ground.”
He said: “If you break that oath, you are liable with your life and your estates. In other words, they can chop your head off, and they can confiscate your entire property”. He later conceded that “nobody’s going to get their heads chopped off”, and he does not think it is likely his estates would be made liable.
James added: “They’re going to get rid of us – the implied threat has been they’re going to get rid of us if we don’t agree it, us individually, if we refuse to do it. And that is, I think, a complete corruption of the principle of the House of Lords. You cannot force us to break our oath, which is very specific indeed.”
A total of 60 peers were originally under investigation for breaching the Code of Conduct. Forty-seven of them were found to have breached the Code of Conduct, but have since either completed the training, booked onto the training, or made an undertaking to take the training, and so have been found to have made appropriate remedial action by the Commissioner. Seven others, including the former Speaker of the House of Commons, Baroness Boothroyd, were excused from the investigation owing to “exceptional circumstances”.
Three other peers under investigation
Scott-Moncrieff is continuing to investigate three other peers for failure to attend the training: Lord Kalms, a non-affiliated life peer and former Conservative party treasurer; Lord Willoughby de Broke, a non-affiliated hereditary peer; and Baroness Mone, a Conservative life peer.
A spokesperson for Baroness Mone told Insider that Mone was not at fault: “The emails were being sent [to] Baroness Mone’s parliamentary email address which is not working, they know this fine well. Due to Covid this is still not working. As soon as Baroness Mone received the email into her personal email address she booked her training.
“She made many attempts to book the training before the deadline – she has a full record of this. The team has Baroness Mone’s mobile number but never called her.”
The spokesperson added they too had also not been contacted.
Insider has attempted to contact Lord Kalms and Lord Willoughby de Broke for comment.
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