A Labor MP has resigned after being suspended over allegations of “serious sexual misconduct”.
In a statement, Christian Matheson apologized to the complainant for “the hurt I have caused.”
But he added that he is “dismayed” to have been found guilty “of several allegations that I know to be untrue.”
An independent panel on MPs’ conduct recommended Mr Matheson should be suspended from the Commons for four weeks over the allegations.
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Mr Matheson described the proposed suspension as “excessive and unfair”.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards upheld two allegations of sexual misconduct against Mr Matheson made by a former member of staff.
He allegedly invited her on a private trip abroad and “the invitation was sexually motivated, unwanted, and had placed the complainant under pressure and intimidated her”, according to the report.
During a work event outside Parliament, he also “linked arms with her; made personal comments about her appearance while looking at her suggestively; made her hold his hand as they left and insisted on accompanying her to her bus stop; and once there invited her back to his flat, kissed her twice on the forehead and attempted to kiss her on the mouth”.
The report states that the commissioner “concluded that these were all unwanted and unwelcome sexual advances.”
A Labor spokesperson said: “This is an incredibly serious case. There must be a zero tolerance for sexual harassment and the Labor Party has acted immediately following the ICGS findings.
“We will now select a candidate that the people of Chester can be proud to vote for.”
Mr Matheson has been the MP for the City of Chester since 2015.
“I have today, with great sadness, tendered my resignation as Member of Parliament for the City of Chester,” he said in a statement.
“This follows publication of a report which had found me guilty of sexual misconduct.
“From the start I accepted I had committed a minor breach of the code and had hoped that an honest and open approach would stand me in a fair light.
“This has proven not to be the case and I am dismayed that I have been found guilty of several allegations that I know to be untrue.
“Indeed my insistence on what I know to be true – that I had no sexual motivation in this matter – was held against me as a refusal to accept my guilt, and caused an increased sanction which I felt was disproportionate.
“Despite probable factual inaccuracies in the sanctions report, my appeal against sanction was not even considered, for the same reason.
“Therefore, I faced a suspension from the House of four weeks.
“While I believe that this is an excessive and unfair penalty, I cannot challenge the process further. I believe that the honorable and right thing to do now is to resign my seat and seek to rebuild my life elsewhere.
“I would ask for privacy for my family. This matter has also caused a great toll on my health, requiring my hospitalisation, and I ask that my privacy is respected while I recover.
“I will forever be grateful to my constituency, and my party, for giving me the honor to serve, and I apologize to the people of Chester, and to the House of Commons, for the disrepute I have brought.
“I once again apologize to the complainant in my case, for the hurt I have caused.”
His resignation means there will now be a by-election in the City of Chester.
Mr Matheson retained the seat with a 6,164 majority in 2019.
Responding to the report, Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect union, said: “It is worrying however that while he was being investigated he remained able to attend the Houses of Parliament.
“In no other workplace would someone being investigated for such serious offenses be free to continue visiting it. MPs must get a grip on this issue – it is simply unacceptable that those working in Parliament continue to be put at risk in this way.”