Complaints process

Last updated: 5 July 2019

The Independents are committed to creating an environment in which anyone who interacts with us can do so free of any type of discrimination, bullying or harassment.

Politics is often characterised by forceful debate, argument and disagreement. This is sometimes necessary but we want to engage with this in an environment that is safe and conducive to progress and the sharing of ideas.

This commitment extends to all types of conduct, whether discrimination on grounds of race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion and belief, or any other unlawful conduct. Beyond unlawful behaviour, we want to ensure all our discourse, communications and conduct and all that which is undertaken on our behalf is respectful and takes place without recourse to abuse. We will not tolerate abusive or bullying conduct or communications whether physical, verbal, written or in a digital environment.

We will therefore be implementing robust policies that build on our values and commitments and set out swift, safe and fair avenues of recourse should we or others fall short of the standards we set.

Our policies will deal with all forms of harassment (including sexual harassment), discrimination, the management and use of data and whistleblowing. Each will have an appropriate complaints or grievance mechanism and we will ensure that, in the deployment of resources available to us, we have regard to the importance of properly resourcing the systems we put in place.

In the meantime we want to ensure that, should complaints of any nature arise, there is an interim mechanism which will allow them to be swiftly and fairly resolved.

The interim procedure

We have put in place an independent complaints procedure which is transparent, deals with matters quickly and fairly, and provides for all parties to have confidence in it. In the interim period, anyone who wishes to make a complaint about a member of The Independents or about a staff member, or volunteer, should contact the independent Complaints Registrar at:

[email protected]

All new complaints will be reviewed by the independent Registrar of Complaints who is an expert appointed specifically for the purpose of ensuring that complainants are supported to make decisions about whether and how to complain. The independent Registrar of Complaints will be able to talk complainants through the complaints process and to assist potential complainants in deciding whether it is appropriate for their complaints to be resolved formally, and to understand how to make a formal complaint if they wish to do so. They will also be complainants’ point of contact during any complaints process. The independent Head of Complaints will consider formal complaints and is empowered to take immediate action, including by suspending a member of The Independents pending investigation, if this is deemed appropriate.

Neither the Complaints Registrar or the Head of Complaints will be a member of The Independents or one of their staff.

We intend formally to adopt a comprehensive complaints procedure within the next 28 days, though we may extend this timeframe by a short period if we deem it necessary in order to allow appropriate consultation on and consideration of best practice in this area.

If, in the period prior to adoption of our comprehensive complaints procedure, a complaint cannot be resolved, we will endeavour to agree a continuing process with the complainant for the resolution of their complaint. That process will:

  • accord with best practice for such investigations and will apply standard principles of natural justice in order to balance fairness between the complainant and the person complained of;
  • ensure transparency of process and the protection of participants;
  • achieve objectivity;
  • determine and apply any appropriate sanctions;
  • and enforce the highest standards of conduct to which The Independents aspire.

Where necessary, external advice will be taken and, if appropriate, external, objective and independent people will be appointed to handle complaints.

If a complaint is made under the interim process which remains unresolved when the comprehensive complaints procedure is adopted, the complainant will be able to choose to continue under the interim process or have their complaint considered under the comprehensive complaints procedure.

As well as being bound by our internal policies, independent MPs and peers will additionally be subject to codes of conduct set by the Houses of Parliament. If Parliamentary or legal authorities are investigating your complaint, we may choose not to initiate an investigation until the outcome of any such process is known.

We have watched and, in some cases, ourselves been let down by the inadequate, opaque, slow and unfair processes adopted currently by the traditional political parties. We are committed to avoid the same traps and to put into effect processes which are fit for purpose both now and as we develop.

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