Lords inquiry finds British Indian peer ‘bullied’, ‘harassed’ woman journo

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London, June 14

An Indian-origin House of Lords peer was asked to apologise after an investigation found that he breached the parliamentary code of conduct by running a campaign of harassment and bullying against a female journalist.

Conservative peer Rami Ranger, 76, faced an investigation by the House of Lords Standards Commissioner following a complaint filed by Journalist Poonam Joshi.

Joshi accused Ranger of shouting at her during a Diwali event in the House of Lords in October 2022, which led to an exchange of insults and abuses on Twitter and WhatsApp.

In her complaint, she described his behaviour as "unethical" and "unhinged", adding that his "behaviour had had a significant impact on her and her family, as well as on her professional life and livelihood".

While Ranger regretted his decision to engage with Joshi on social media, he emphasised that he had responded due to significant provocation by the London-based journalist, who he said had lied about, and defamed, him and his daughter on social media.

"Regarding the possible breach of the rules relating to bullying and harassment, following my consideration of all the evidence, I concluded that Lord Ranger's behaviour did meet the criteria for bullying and harassment and therefore breached the Code of Conduct," the report by Akbar Khan, Commissioner for Standards for the House of Lords, stated.

"In the light of the findings, I recommended that Lord Ranger apologise to Ms Poonam Joshi about his conduct and undertake bespoke training and behaviour change coaching. Lord Ranger agreed to the remedial action and has issued a written apology to Ms Joshi. Ms Joshi also chose to issue a written apology to Lord Ranger regarding her actions."

However, regarding the possible breach of the rules on the use of facilities," Khan concluded that Lord Ranger had not breached the Code of Conduct.

During the Diwali event, Joshi had raised questions about the presence of representatives of a controversial godman Nithyananda, currently sought by authorities in India on multiple charges.Ranger's apology, included as an appendix with the Commissioner's report, said that the investigation process has had a profound and lasting effect on him.

"The Commissioner has found my behaviour fell short of the high standards I expect of myself, and which others expect of me as a sitting member of the House of Lords. I have expressed my remorse and I apologise to Ms Joshi," he wrote.

"The investigation process and reading and reflecting on the report has had a profound and lasting effect on me. I will continue to self-reflect and learn from this experiences."

Joshi in response said she was "grateful" to Ranger for his apology.

"I am grateful to Lord Ranger for his apology. The Commissioner's Report has given me the opportunity to reflect on my own actions, which have not met the standards I have set for myself. I am remorseful and accept that I bear a share of the responsibility for the circumstances which have arisen, and I apologise to Lord Ranger," she stated.

--IANS

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