The Daily Telegraph
MP blames his height for bullying behaviour
6ft 9in politician who bullied IT staff claimed he was under pressure as he was ‘very conspicuous’
The UK’S tallest MP claimed his height partially contributed to him losing his temper with parliamentary staff who were attempting to fix his IT problems, as he yesterday issued a public apology in the Commons. In an appeal, which was later rejected, Daniel Kawczynski, the 6ft 9in MP for Shrewsbury, argued he had been under pressure at the time due to a range of factors, including attacks from local constituents, which were hard to avoid because he was “very conspicuous” owing to his height.
THE UK’S tallest MP claimed his height partially contributed to him losing his temper with staff who were attempting to fix his IT problems, as he was forced to issue a public apology.
Daniel Kawczynski, who is 6ft 9in, was found to have acted in a “threatening and intimidating manner” after he was unable to participate in a virtual Commons committee hearing last year.
In an appeal against the ruling, which was later rejected, Mr Kawczynski argued he had been under pressure at the time due to a range of factors, including verbal abuse from constituents, which were hard to avoid because his height made him “very conspicuous”. The incident occurred in April 2020.
According to a report by the Independent Expert Panel, which oversees appeals and sanctions in bullying cases, the MP for Shrewsbury was said to have grown frustrated when two staff members failed to resolve the “technical difficulties” he was experiencing when dialling into the committee.
He is said to have been “repeatedly rude, aggressive and impatient” with them and other staff, referring to one as a member of the “snowflake generation” and “useless”.
In separate discussions with Parliament’s digital service, the MP is said to have “ranted” and said to another staff member: “What the hell are you playing at?” While these staff members did not complain, their testimony was included by the panel as supporting evidence. Following a formal complaint against the MP, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards found that Mr Kawczynski had “abused his power”.
A disciplinary panel then ruled that Mr Kawczynski should apologise in the Commons chamber. Yesterday, he told MPS that he accepted his behaviour “constituted bullying and as such was highly inexcusable”.
However, in their report, the panel revealed he had initially tried to appeal against the ruling owing to the impact on his mental health of being forced to apologise in the Commons as well as “the psychological and emotional pressure” he was operating under at the time. The panel said Mr Kawczynski had argued that “Brexit and serious flooding” in his constituency had given rise to “serious difficulties for him as the local MP”. The report went on: “The respondent is 6ft 9in tall and thus very conspicuous in the street, in his local shops. He found himself under repeated attack by members of the public on both these grounds. “He emphasised to us how such attacks could be extremely vicious. Against that background, the advent of the pandemic added another layer of pressure. It was in that context that his frustration with the technical problems associated with a remote meeting caused him to be so angry. “Nevertheless, he emphasised that he had never set out to bully anyone and did not wish to bully anyone.” Mr Kawczynski outlined other steps he had taken in response to the complaints, including giving up alcohol and issuing an apology to the complainants.
But a second panel found the sanction was “proper and proportionate”.
The panel said that he demonstrated an “increased level of contrition during the latter stages of the complaints process”, citing his letter to the panel, oral testimony and an unreserved apology over his “inappropriate behaviour.”
However, they went on to state that while Mr Kawczynski had apologised to the complainants, “some concerns remain as to the sincerity of the apologies given to date”.
Speaking in the Commons yesterday, he said: “I have reflected on my behaviour, I accept it constituted bullying and as such was highly inexcusable.
“The circumstances were stressful for the staff who were assisting the committee and for me. I’ve apologised to them before and I apologise to them again and to the House unreservedly. I will never repeat such behaviour.”