Neil Coyle faces five-day Commons suspension after harassment probe
‘Their intervention has possibly saved my life’: Ex-Labour MP Neil Coyle THANKS staffer and journalist who complained about his ‘drunken’ and ‘racial’ abuse in bar as he makes grovelling apology in Commons – and is suspended from House for five days
Neil Coyle issued a grovelling apology for ‘drunken’ abusive behaviour in Commons bars today as he faces being suspended from the House for five days.
The MP told the House he was ‘ashamed’ of himself after the Parliamentary watchdog released its verdict on two incidents in the Strangers’ Bar.
And he heaped praise on the ‘brave’ victims who had made complaints, saying they had ‘possibly saved my life’ as he has since gone teetotal.
The first incident saw Mr Coyle target another MP’s assistant with ‘foul-mouthed and drunken abuse’.
In the other Mr Coyle was found to have harassed a journalist with invective that had ‘racial overtone’.
Neil Coyle faces being suspended from the House of Commons for five days after a probe condemned his abusive behaviour. He has been sitting as an independent MP after having the Labour whip removed
Mr Coyle, who has been sitting as an independent MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark after having the Labour whip withdrawn, accepted the conclusions of the the Independent Expert Panel and the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.
Earlier this week the 44-year-old gave an interview insisting he has now given up drinking alcohol.
The Panel recommended a two-day suspension in relation to the first incident, and three days for the second.
Making a personal statement in the chamber today, Mr Coyle said: ‘No-one should leave any MP’s company so shocked or appalled at their inappropriate behaviour or failure to meet the standards rightly expected of this office.
‘I also wish to apologise to my constituents in Southwark. They faithfully put their trust in me to stand up for their values here in Westminster in three consecutive general elections and who I failed to represent in a way they deserve or would recognise.’
Mr Coyle said he was ‘ashamed this apology is both necessary and overdue’, including to members of his local Labour Party.
The MP went on: ‘I also wish to thank the two complainants for their bravery. I don’t doubt that it was not easy to submit complaints. Their courage has ensured standards have been upheld through an independent process I was proud to support being established and one that exists to tackle the problematic behaviour I sadly exhibited last year.
‘It’s right and proper that I’ve been held to account, sanctioned accordingly and I take my punishment on the chin.
‘I fully accept my failings and again express my sincere apologies. I will use the time suspended to reflect on self-improvement and have already undergone some training, including on tackling unconscious bias – which I recommend to all members and their teams.’
He told MPs: ‘I also owe the complainants my further gratitude for calling out my upsetting words and actions. It forced me to recognise that my drinking had become a dependency and to seek help.
‘On March 1 this week I celebrated a year since I stopped drinking and would not have been able to stop without their effective intervention.
‘In the healthcare received since last February, it’s also been made abundantly clear to me that had I not stopped drinking it’d have likely caused a significant stroke or worse. Their intervention has quite possibly saved my life.
The report said that ‘in relation to both episodes, it was clear that very marked abuse of alcohol was at the root of events’.
Political journalist Henry Dyer, who now works for the Guardian, said: ‘Everyone working in Parliament should be able to do so without harassment and abuse.
‘I spoke out to raise awareness of racism, particularly anti-Asian racism, and of inappropriate conduct.
The MP would reportedly sink three or four pints an hour in Parliament’s Strangers’ Bar (stock image)
‘I am grateful to the ICGS for the way in which they have handled this matter, and to my colleagues and friends for their support and kindness. I am pleased this process has concluded and I can get on with my work as a journalist reporting on Westminster.’
Speaking to the Mirror earlier this week, Mr Coyle said he drank excessively five nights a week and after the deaths of his father and a close friend in 2021, he drank even more.
He would sink three or four pints an hour in Parliament’s Strangers’ Bar.
But a doctor told him he would have a stroke or heart attack and die if he did not stop.
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