A peer who verbally abused a parliamentary security guard and called an MP who complained about it a “queer” is facing a suspension from the House of Lords for at least 18 months following a report by a conduct committee.
Lord Maginnis was found to have used abusive language to a parliamentary security officer as he tried to enter the estate without his pass.
When the SNP MP Hannah Bardell raised the incident in the Commons, describing it as “one of the worst cases of abuse of security staff I have seen”, Maginnis, a former army officer, said she was only doing so because he opposed gay marriage.
“Queers like Ms Bardell don’t particularly annoy me,” Maginnis told the Huffington Post, as well as describing the security guard as “crooked”, “a little git” and a “jobsworth”.
The Lords’ conduct committee recommended that Maginnis’s suspension should be extended indefinitely if he fails to engage constructively with behaviour change training.
“His suspension should not end until that training is successfully completed and Lord Maginnis is able to demonstrate a clear understanding of how his behaviour impacts on other people in the Parliamentary community,” the report said.
Maginnis was accused of verbally abusing the security guard Christian Bombolo when asked to show his security pass in January at the Westminster Tube entrance to the parliamentary estate.
Witnesses including Bardell said the peer shouted and became rude and aggressive.
He was accused of making further homophobic remarks about Bardell and Labour’s environment secretary, Luke Pollard, following a breakfast meeting hosted by the all-party parliamentary group for the Armed Forces.
Maginnis sent an email to James Gray MP, the chair of the APPG, copied to a number of other parliamentarians and to my office, with the subject heading “Discrimination by Homos”.
In these emails he complained to Gray that Pollard had “deliberately not called” him despite acknowledging his indication of wishing to ask a question. He described his exchange with Pollard after the meeting as one in which Pollard had “threatened me with his ‘boyfriend’”.
In another row over the incident with Labour MP Toby Perkins, Maginnis was found guilty of homophobic harassment after being overheard saying: “I am not going to be bullied by queers.”
Bombolo told the committee that Maginnis’s comments made him feel “humiliated and worthless”. The Lords conduct committee said this incident constituted bullying.
“The committee has recommended Lord Maginnis of Drumglass be suspended from the House for at least 18 months for breaching the code of conduct in relation to behaviour that constituted bullying and harassment against four different complainants including a parliamentary security officer and three MPs.
“Lord Maginnis’s harassment related to the protected characteristic of sexual orientation and the language he used was homophobic and offensive.”
Maginnis, 82, the former Ulster Unionist MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, has been at the centre of controversy on several occasions. In 2012, he was criticised after equating homosexuality and bestiality. In August 2013, he was fined after being found guilty of assaulting a man during a road rage incident.
The Lords’ commissioner for standards, Lucy Scott-Moncrief, who carried out an investigation into the independent Ulster Unionist peer, previously recommended a ban of nine months.
He appealed against this, but the committee found he had shown “very little insight into the impact of his behaviour on the complainants, and no remorse for the upset he had caused”.
Instead, it added, he had “portrayed himself as a victim of a conspiracy … and continued to refer to the complainants in a disobliging and sometimes offensive manner”.
The committee said that they should review whether Maginnis has engaged with his behaviour and shown a willingness to apologise to those he had abused and insulted before being allowed to return after suspension.
“Given the lack of insight into the impact of his behaviour shown during his oral appeal and the absence of remorse, the proposed minimum suspension of nine months should be increased. We therefore propose that the term of suspension should be doubled to a minimum of 18 months,” the committee concluded.
The House of Lords will decide on 7 December whether to bring the ban into force.