NI peer who once compared homosexuality to bestiality banned from Lords for bullying gay MPs


A Northern Irish peer is facing an 18-month ban from the House of Lords for a campaign of bulling and homophobic abuse of MPs and staff.

An official probe into independent Ulster Unionist peer Lord Maginnis of Drumglass recommended he be booted out for at least a year-and-a-half for his toxic behaviour.

The recommendation from the Lords Conduct Committee follows an investigation into his treatment of a parliamentary security officer and MPs Hannah Bardell, Luke Pollard and Toby Perkins.

He was found to have used ‘homophobic and derogatory language’ about gay MPs Ms Bardell and Mr Pollard.

Ms Bardell welcomed the action taken today but said that if the abuse had happened in a regular workplace the per would have been sacked. 

Lord Maginnis has previously made controversial comments about homosexuality. In 2012 he used a BBC interview to compare it to bestiality, for which he lost the Ulster Unionist whip. 

It its report, released today, the committee recommended the ban should only be lifted if the peer completes ‘behaviour change training’ and ‘is able to demonstrate a clear understanding of how his behaviour impacts on other people in the Parliamentary community’.

It doubled the initial recommendation of a nine-month ban by Commissioner for Standards Lucy Scott-Moncrief.

An official probe into independent Ulster Unionist peer Lord Maginnis of Drumglass recommended he be booted out for at least a year-and-a-half for his toxic behaviour

Hannah Bardell

Luke Pollard

The peer was found to have used ”homophobic and derogatory language’ about gay MPs Hannah Bardell (left) and Luke Pollard (right)

Lord Maginnis (left, in 2001 in Downing Street) has previously made controversial comments about homosexuality. In 2012 he used a BBC interview to compare it to bestiality, for which he was stripped of the Ulster Unionist whip.

Lord Maginnis (left, in 2001 in Downing Street) has previously made controversial comments about homosexuality. In 2012 he used a BBC interview to compare it to bestiality, for which he was stripped of the Ulster Unionist whip.

Lord Maginnis was formerly an Ulster Unionist Party MP and later represented the party in the Lords.

In 2012, he announced his decision to resign his membership after the leadership distanced themselves when he referred to gay marriage as ‘unnatural and deviant behaviour’.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster about gay marriage he had said: ‘This is based on sexual practice. Now, does that mean that every deviant practice has to be accommodated? Will the next thing be that we legislate for some sort of bestiality?’ 

His affiliation in the Lords since July 2013 has been listed as Independent Ulster Unionist.

Lord Maginnis was investigated after being ‘verbally abusive’ to security officer Christian Bombolo when asked to show his parliamentary pass in January.

Ms Bardell witnessed the incident with Mr Bombolo and complained that when she attempted to intervene she was treated ‘rudely and aggressively’ by Lord Maginnis.

He later described her as a ‘queer’ in a press interview. Lord Maginnis was also investigated for using homophobic language in relation to Mr Pollard in February 2020. 

Mr Pollard complained to the commissioner that after a dinner for the All Party Armed Forces Group, of which he was a vice-chairman, the ‘drunk’ peer complained that he had not been allowed to speak. 

The next day Lord Maginnis sent an email to another MP in the group about Mr Pollard, with the subject ‘discrimination by homos’.

Mr Pollard, the Plymouth Sutton and Devonport MP, wrote: ‘In the email, Lord Maginnis made a series of accusations about me including that I threatened to set my boyfriend on him and that he was waiting on the Terrace. 

‘[My boyfriend], is a lovely lad, doesn’t really like getting involved in politics and was at the time away filming an advert for his work and not on the Terrace. At no point did I threaten the Lord with my boyfriend nor say that he was on the Terrace.’

Peers will have to approve the report before the suspension comes into force.

In a statement this morning, SNP MP Ms Bardell said while the experience has had a ‘profound impact’ on her mental health, she is glad she ‘stood up and spoke out’.

‘I’m very glad that the authorities in the House of Lords have taken this matter so seriously and have huge respect and appreciation for the very thorough job the Lords Commissioner and her team have done in investigating the actions and behaviour of Lord Maginnis,’ she continued.

‘I am incredibly grateful to all who have supported me through this grim affair including my own constituency staff, my family, and both my current and former partner whom I was with when I received death threats earlier this year, and who was also deeply impacted by the events following Lord Maginnis’s behaviour towards me.

‘The extent of Lord Maginnis’s behaviour is now laid bare for all to read and my goodness is it a worrying and depressing read. 

‘That someone who is in a position of such power and influence and who is a lawmaker, can think it appropriate to behave in such a manner is truly astonishing. I was particularly struck and saddened by the testimony of the security guard who was bullied by Lord Maginnis. I witnessed this as it happened and attempted to intervene.

‘The episode has clearly had a very profound and negative impact on this member of staff who was only trying to do his job. 

‘Our security staff on the estate do incredibly important work, every day, to keep us safe. All of the staff on the estate deserve our full respect and the very least we can do is wear our security badges.’

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