Independent inquiry chair announced

The Liberal Democrats have today announced that Helena Morrissey has been appointed as the chair of the independent inquiry into culture, process and complaints within the Liberal Democrats.

The review will also look at attitudes towards women in the party, as well as the employment relationship between staff, elected officials and volunteers; training; and how to lead a wider change in Westminster.

Commenting, Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Gordon said:

“Following recent allegations it is clear that we in the Liberal Democrats failed to live up to our political ideals.

“We recognise that we need to adapt how we operate. As a political party which prides itself on equality, we must give everyone confidence they will be treated fairly and equally and that they will be listened to.

“It is vital this review is done independently of the party, in a way which can be frank and can scrutinise thoroughly. I am delighted Helena has agreed to chair the review. She has been a leading light in the development of women and breaking barriers, and I am sure that she will make an immensely positive difference to both our party and to politics.”

Commenting further, Helena Morrissey said:

“Too much of our society has operated in old-boys’ networks. It leads to an atmosphere where women don’t feel valued or listened to. We can only make changes in society when those at the top in business and politics lead by example.

“While prompted in difficult circumstances, this review is a very important step in giving everyone, especially women, a greater confidence in politics and the Liberal Democrats.

“I will be talking to people at all levels of the party to recognise where there have been failings to help guide a culture shift and develop a much more equal and trusting set of standards.

"As I embark on my independent inquiry I would like to set out the structure of the review and how I am going to gather input. The review will cover three overlapping areas:
  • Processes (and what did and did not happen)
  • Attitudes and culture within the Party
  • A blueprint for the future
"I am keen to hear from all those who have relevant experiences and views to help me form an accurate picture (whether Party members, staff or public).

"This is a Call for Written Evidence for three questions around the areas outlined above:
  1. Do you have examples of specific incidences where processes around complaints were not followed or where there appeared to be gaps in policies or procedures for dealing with such complaints?
  2. Can you provide examples which illustrate weaknesses in the Party’s attitudes and culture – past and present?
  3. Do you have ideas about what needs to change for the Party to look to the future with confidence that any form of harassment within the Party will be properly dealt with?
"All submissions will be treated in confidence. I will follow up with a number of those who submit written evidence where I need to explore specific aspects of your testimony, either in-person or via other means. I will also be gathering all the formal policies and how these have evolved and will be interviewing a range of individuals, both within the Party and those who may have since moved on but whose voices should be heard.

"For the avoidance of doubt, I will not be making judgements on specific cases or making any assumptions regarding the innocence or guilt of individuals.

"I will be structuring and preparing the review over the remainder of this month, along with conducting some key early interviews. The bulk of witness interviews will be conducted in April and I aim to write the report in May with a view to a June publication date. I will be supported in the work by Jane Smithard and an administrative assistant.

"Please submit all written evidence by Friday 5th April to contact@independentinquiry.org.uk. Thank you."

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