CIPR in talks over holding inquiry into suspended Lord Laird

The CIPR is holding internal discussions about a possible investigation into whether Lord Laird, the CIPR fellow who has been suspended from the House of Lords, has breached the institute's code of conduct.

Lord Laird: Suspended from the House of Lords
Lord Laird: Suspended from the House of Lords

The discussions follow the House of Lords' decision in December to suspend Laird for four months for breaching the Lords' code of conduct in relation to comments he made to an undercover journalist for the BBC's 'Panorama' programme.

Laird was found to have breached the Lords' code of conduct by failing to "act always on his personal honour" in three respects: by demonstrating a clear willingness to negotiate an agreement to set up an all-party group in return for payment or reward in two separate incidents, and by demonstrating a clear willingness to negotiate an agreement that would involve providing parliamentary services in return for payment or reward.

The action taken by the Lords makes Laird a live issue for the CIPR, which last year put discussions over how to proceed on ice until the Lords investigation had finished.

No investigation has yet been set in motion by the institute but PRWeek understands a decision on how to proceed will follow the CIPR’s first council meeting at the end of this month.

Under the CIPR’s code of conduct, an investigation could be prompted by a complaint against Laird by a member of the public, a fellow CIPR member or by its CEO Alastair McCapra.

The merits of any complaint would then be scrutinised by a disciplinary committee. The ultimate sanction could be potential expulsion from the CIPR.

A CIPR spokesman said: "The CIPR takes possible breaches of our code of conduct very seriously and we have rigorous processes in place to regulate the professional standards of our members. All such matters are handled in the strictest confidence. In cases where there is both public and media interest, members can rest assured that any complaint will receive the fullest consideration and the Institute will act in the most appropriate manner, within our regulations and in the best interests of the profession as a whole."

Shortly after the decision, Laird told the Belfast News Letter "I accept the verdict but I don’t agree with it" because he had "agreed to nothing" and "did not accept anything".

At the time of publication, Laird had not responded to a request for comment made via Biscuit PR – which he is listed as being involved in. 

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