MP hits back in row over staff complaint

December 20 2017
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Filton's MP Jack Lopresti has hit back after claims made by a former member of staff to the BBC.

Mr Lopresti, the Conservative MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke, is reported to be facing an investigation over allegations by the former member of his parliamentary team that he was prone to angry outbursts and led the staff member to feel 'devastated' after questioning her performance on her return from a bereavement, according to the BBC.

But this week Mr Lopresti said it was wrong to suggest that the former office manager, who Filtonvoice is not naming, was not listened to when she raised complaints.

He said: "Roughly a year ago she spoke with the then Deputy Chief Whip, Anne Milton MP, as well as Barbara Joy as the Head of the Parliamentary HR Service. I then, as soon as possible, invited her to a meeting, where she had a UNITE representative present. During the course of the meeting she was asked, several times, if she had any allegations which she wanted to put to a grievance procedure – she declined.

"A few weeks later, she informed me of a family bereavement. I gave her my sincerest condolences, and gave her as much time off as she needed. The reason why, several weeks later she had a letter inviting her to another meeting, was because there was an ongoing HR procedure, which she herself had started."

The staff member, who resigned from working as Mr Lopresti's office manager in March this year, reported her concerns to the Conservative Party's new code of conduct hotline and has since made a formal complaint, according to the BBC.

Mr Lopresti said this was the second time his reputation had been attacked after a bid was made earlier in the year to de-select him before the General Election, which he won with an increased number of votes but a significantly reduced majority.

MPs appoint their own staff teams who are independent of party affiliations.

It is understood the staff member complained to the local party office but with the matter being outside their jurisdiction, advice was given and it was referred to the party whips.

Two other former staff members told the BBC they had had a good relationship with Mr Lopresti, and that he was a good employer.

The party has a new complaints procedure with a hotline for reporting potential breaches and a more detailed investigatory process.

There will be an independent figure on the body looking into grievances, the party said.

It pledged to deal with all complaints in a "timely and confidential manner".

Filtonvoice approached the Conservative Party but no comment was given.