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The complainant accompanied [Vaz] on a trip to Washington in October 2007. The Applicant is from Northern Ireland. In a conversation with another member on this trip, [Vaz] assumed the complainant was Catholic, disparaged her in front of the other member, and noted that this member allegedly “locked up” the complainant. The commissioner declares that “the complainant declares that he feels obliged to set the record straight and to confirm [her] mixed religious origin. The Commissioner concluded that this violated the Bullying and Harassment Policy as it involved inappropriate teasing or jokes based on “race, religion or belief” …

The complainant accompanied [Vaz] during a trip to Russia in 2008. Although senior officials told him he shouldn’t, [Vaz] took a member of his own staff with him on this trip. [Vaz] told the complainant he had done it because the complainant was not competent. In view of the documents at the time on the quality of the complainant’s service, the Commissioner found no basis for this suggestion and concluded that it stemmed from the personal hostility of the complainant. [Vaz]. She concluded that this was an “inappropriate comment on someone’s performance” in violation of section 2.11 of the Bullying and Harassment Policy.

In a separate conclusion, the Commissioner accepted that [Vaz] threatened to take pictures of the complainant drinking alcohol during the trip to Russia and show them to her supervisor. There was documentary evidence that he had taken such photographs. The implication of the threat was that she was likely to drink excessively in a way that affected her performance. There was no substance to it. Here too, the Commissioner concluded that it was a “psychological threat” having the effect of making the complainant “feel vulnerable, upset, undermined, humiliated, denigrated or threatened”.

The commissioner also noted that during this trip, [Vaz] urged the complainant to reveal her age, also in a context where the request was part of an unjustified disparagement of her performance.

In another episode of the same trip, [Vaz] accused the complainant of not knowing how to effectively support the committee because she “was not a mother”. This was an inappropriate comment on the complainant’s performance in violation of paragraph 2.11.

After the trip to Russia, there was an episode where [Vaz] became unduly extremely angry with the complainant after she advised him to avoid criticizing a court decision at a committee meeting. He accused her of “not living in the real world” and not understanding how the members and the house function. This was a violation of paragraph 2.11.

Following his change of role and his removal from the Home Affairs Committee, [Vaz] engaged in another conversation with the complainant. He told her that about a meeting he had with prostitutes, they “reminded him” of the complainant. The Commissioner concluded that this episode also constituted verbal abuse which could properly be characterized as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behavior” in violation of paragraph 2.11.


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