LONDON — Texts sent to a 21-year-old intern by British Conservative MP Rob Roberts inviting her to “fool around” were “unacceptable,” the party has concluded — but Roberts will not face dismissal over his behavior.
Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) began an inquiry into the behavior of Roberts, the MP for Delyn in North Wales, in July 2020 after complaints that he had sexually harassed a young woman working in parliament.
The probe was prompted when the BBC reported he had sent WhatsApp messages to an intern asking her to “fool around with no strings” and commenting that she had “lovely legs.”
CCHQ confirmed on Thursday that the investigation had concluded. A Conservative Party spokeswoman said: “Rob Roberts’ conduct was found to be unacceptable under the party’s code of conduct and he has been strongly rebuked.
“Mr. Roberts has apologized for his behavior and was instructed to undertake safeguarding and social media protection training.”
Correspondence between CCHQ and one of Roberts’ constituents seen by POLITICO reveals that the inquiry finished at least three weeks ago, but claimed the outcome could not be shared for reasons of confidentiality.
An email from the party’s complaints department stated: “The party takes these matters very seriously, and we would like to reassure you that when we have been made aware of these cases, we act decisively — launching immediate investigations and taking further action when appropriate.”
The email added: “Whilst I’m afraid I cannot go into further detail at this time due to the confidential nature of the process, I can confirm the case is now closed.”
Despite a further request from the constituent, the party only divulged the outcome after being contacted by POLITICO.
Roberts has retained the Conservative Party whip throughout the nine-month inquiry: voting and speaking from the Tory benches.
Anne Milton, former Conservative deputy chief whip, said: “These things shouldn’t take longer than five or six weeks — it’s outrageous, both for the accused and the accuser. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Roberts is also alleged to have asked out a male Commons employee on several occasions and made repeated inappropriate comments, which led the man to change jobs.
When the allegations emerged, the MP acknowledged asking out a staffer had been “inappropriate” but said he had been under “a great deal of mental stress” at the time. He did not comment on the messages sent to the intern.
He is facing a separate investigation under parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme which is ongoing after more than a year.
Roberts did not respond to a request for comment.