How many MLAs have faced an investigation and/or disciplinary proceedings in the last five years in matters relating to sexual misconduct

Information Standards Freedom of Information Response

Our Ref: FOI 44-21

2 November 2021


Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”)

I am writing to confirm that the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission (Assembly Commission) has processed your request dated 06 October 2021 in line with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In your request, you asked:

“How many MLAs (if any) have faced an investigation and/or disciplinary proceedings in the last five years in matters relating to sexual misconduct (sexual harassment/assault) while working in their roles as MLAs in the NI Assembly, in their constituency offices or declared by the MLA or PSNI to the NI Assembly?

Which political parties are those MLAs (if any) members of, who are they, and what were the details of the accusations/investigation/disciplinary processes involved?

How many (if any) members of the public have made complaints of sexual harassment/assault against an MLA/MLAs in the last few years? Have any of these complaints been investigated by the PSNI? If so, how many? Which parties are these MLAs (if any) members of?”

The Assembly Commission does not hold the requested information for the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Commissioner for Standards (‘the Commissioner’) provides the Committee on Standards and Privileges (‘the Committee) with a copy of each originating document from all complainants against Members alleging breaches of the Assembly Members’ Code of Conduct (‘the Code’); but such documents may disclose a number of different complaints of alleged breaches of the Code and determining the number of complaints is a matter for the Commissioner.

Under section 27(3) of the Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, the Assembly is required to publish all investigation reports by the Commissioner.

The Commissioner’s investigation report is published as an appendix to the Committee’s report, which, where applicable, may recommend to the Assembly that sanctions be applied in respect of a Member who has been found by the Committee to have breached the Code. The Committee’s reports on complaint cases in the applicable mandates are available at the following links:



Section 16 (1) of the FOIA says that a public authority should provide advice and assistance, ‘so far as it would be reasonable to expect the public authority to do so’, to anyone who has made or is thinking of making a request for information.In that context, I have therefore included a link to the Commissioner for Standards website where you will find all previously published annual reports dating back to 2012-13.

You have the right to request a formal review by the Assembly Commission and if you wish to do so, please write to me at the above address.

If after such an internal review you are still unhappy with the response, you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF who will undertake an independent review.

The Assembly Commission may publish details of your FOI request and our official response within the organisational disclosure log. The request will be completely anonymised and you will not be identified in any way. This is to meet the requirements as laid out by in the agreed publication scheme with the Information Commissioners’ Office.

Yours sincerely