PART 1: CODE OF CONDUCT
Purpose of this Code of Conduct
- To set out the minimum standards of behaviour expected from anyone representing the Party as an elected or appointed official or office-holder.
- To support equality of opportunity, diversity and inclusion, and the absence of any and all inappropriate behaviour, in all aspects of the Party’s activities.
This Code of Conduct sets out the framework of behaviour expected of those Party representatives (listed under ‘Who is the Code of Conduct for?’ below), who are required as a strict condition of their ongoing representation of the Party, membership of, engagement with and/or (in the case of any organisation which is formally recognised by the Party) recognition by the Party, to adhere to this Code of Conduct in their activities representing the Party.
Who is the code of conduct for?
This Code of Conduct is for anyone who formally represents the Party as an elected or appointed official. This includes, but is not limited to: Members of Parliament, Peers, Members of the European Parliament, Members of the Scottish Parliament, Members of the Welsh Assembly, Members of the Greater London Assembly, Police & Crime Commissioners, elected Mayors, Councillors and Association, area, regional, and national Party officers. The Conservative Party Board formally adopted the Code of Conduct in December 2017.
What standards are expected of individuals covered by this Code?
- follow the Seven Principles of Public Life established by Lord Nolan and the Committee on Standards in Public Life:
- Selflessness – Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
- Integrity – Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
- Objectivity – Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
- Accountability – Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
- Openness – Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
- Honesty – Holders of public office should be truthful.
- Leadership – Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour.
- actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs;
- lead by example to encourage and foster respect and tolerance;
- treat others in a professional and straightforward manner;
- act with honesty and probity and in a manner which upholds the reputation and values of the Conservative Party. Such duty is fundamental. Conduct which the public may reasonably perceive as undermining a representative’s honesty and probity is likely to diminish trust and confidence placed in them, and the Party, by the public;
- not use their position to bully, abuse, victimise, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others (see further the interpretation annex);
- take reasonable steps to ensure that people who wish to raise concerns about bullying, discrimination, harassment and/or victimisation by others feel able to do so, and know how to follow the complaints procedure set out in this Code;
- co-operate fully with any process set down by the Party Board should a grievance process be instigated. This Code will be made publicly available on the Conservative Party website.
PART 2: PROCEDURE FOR ALLEGED BREACHES OF THE CODE OF CONDUCT
If any individuals wish to make a formal complaint against elected representatives or officers of the Party they should email [email protected].
There may be instances where an individual feels able to raise the problem informally with the person responsible and explain clearly to them that their behaviour is not welcome or makes them uncomfortable. If informal steps are not appropriate or have been unsuccessful, then the following formal procedure may apply.
When we receive a formal complaint, we will investigate it in a timely and confidential manner. The investigation will be conducted by someone with appropriate experience and no prior involvement in the complaint. The investigation should be thorough, impartial and objective, and carried out with sensitivity and due respect for the rights of all parties concerned.
The following process will be adopted in so far as it is reasonably practicable to do so:
Stage 1: We will obtain written statements from the Complainant and notify the Respondent that a complaint has been made about them. The Respondent will be given the opportunity to provide any evidence or details that will help to establish their position. It may be necessary to interview witnesses to any of the incidents mentioned in the complaint. If so, the importance of confidentiality will be emphasised to them.
The Investigating Officer may dismiss complaints that are obviously trivial, and/or lacking in merit and/or cannot fairly be investigated or cannot be investigated.
Stage 2: A panel consisting of no fewer than three people, appointed by the Party Chairman, will examine the complaint and evidence gathered. This must include representation of the voluntary Party alongside at least one independent person. If the complaint regards a Member of Parliament, the panel must include at least one person nominated by the Chairman of the 1922 Committee.
- If there is an allegation of criminal wrongdoing, we will strongly advise the Complainant to report this to the relevant authority as soon as practicable. In certain instances, we may have a duty to contact the relevant authority directly.
- The panel will collectively determine whether the complaint warrants further investigation and/or whether there is a potential breach of the Conservative Party’s Code of Conduct, or whether it is vexatious or malicious or trivial.
- If it is agreed that the Code of Conduct has not been breached, and the complaint does not warrant further investigation by the Party, then the Complainant will receive written notification of this, explaining the decision.
- If it is agreed that the Code of Conduct may have been breached, the process will move to Stage 3.
- Records of meetings and decisions will be kept for a minimum of 5 years or as required by law.
Stage 3: The panel established under Stage 2 will examine further the complaint and evidence gathered.
- The panel will provide their findings to the Party Chairman, recommending the appropriate level of the Party at which the complaint should be resolved and/or dealt with according to the Party’s Constitution, and will continue to monitor the complaint to its conclusion.
- If the panel cannot agree collectively on its findings, the dissenting views must be presented as well as the majority view.
- If appropriate, the complaint may then be referred by the Chairman to the Leader and/or to the Board of the Conservative Party, who shall take such action as they see fit. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, suspension of membership or expulsion from the Party.
- Any hearing of any panel or body established to hear a complaint under the Code of Conduct will be provided with Terms of Reference and Notes on Procedure to be adopted at the hearing. The panel will be obliged to consider an application on behalf of the Respondent for the matter to be dismissed on the grounds that the Complainant’s case is vexatious or malicious, or for any other reason. In considering such an application for dismissal, the panel may seek qualified legal advice.
- Any removal of rights of membership will only be made after due considerations of natural justice.
- Schedule 6 (23) of the Constitution of the Conservative Party provides for an appeal process in the event of the Board of the Party determining that an individual should be suspended or expelled from membership of the Party. Any member whose membership is suspended, withdrawn or refused by the Board of the Party has 28 days to lodge an appeal to the Individual Member Review Committee which shall exist for the purpose of hearing such appeals under a process determined by it and whose decision shall be final.
- Records of meetings and decisions will be kept for a minimum of 5 years or as required by law.
- In no way should anything in this Code interfere with an elected representative carrying out his or her duties and exercising his or her judgement in relation to his or her work, nor to any individual’s right to a private life within the law.
In the event that evidence is received by CCHQ that a member of the Party may have acted in breach of the Code, but no complaint has been received in the name of an individual, an own-motion investigation may be approved by the Party Chairman in the name of the “Conservative Party”.
Discrimination includes victimising or harassing any other person because of race (including colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, citizenship), sex, gender re-assignment, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status, disability, age, religion or belief [which should be interpreted as fully adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism which the Conservative Party adopted in December 2016], pregnancy and maternity status.
Harassment is any unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive situation or environment for them. A single incident can amount to harassment. Harassment may involve conduct of a sexual nature (sexual harassment), or it may be related to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. Harassment is unacceptable even if it does not fall within any of these categories. Victimisation provisions protect certain individuals who do (or might do) acts such as bringing discrimination claims, complaining about harassment, or getting involved in some way with another complaint (such as giving evidence).
Victimisation may therefore occur where a person subjects another person to a detriment because either that person has acted in such a way and/or is believed to have acted in such a way, or may act in such a way.
Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving the misuse of power that can make a person feel vulnerable, upset, humiliated, undermined or threatened. Power does not always mean being in a position of authority, but can include both personal strength, influence and the power to coerce through fear or intimidation. Bullying can take the form of physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct.
The Board of the Conservative Party
December 11th 2017
Updated June 29th 2020
THE SOCIAL MEDIA COMPLAINTS RULES 2018
What are these Rules?
These rules govern the handling of complaints about a specific part of Conservative Party discipline: the misuse and abuse of social media. They do not apply to any other type of complaint.
They are the way in which a person can complain about social media abuse and how their complaint is handled.
They also supplement when applicable (i) the Code of Conduct for Party Representatives 2017 and (ii) the Rules and Procedure of the Disciplinary Sub-Committee 2018 and (iii) the Code of Conduct for the Leadership and Management of Volunteers.
Who can make a complaint under these Rules?
Any person who is 16 years of age or older.
When do these rules apply?
Where any person over the age of 16 thinks that a current member of the Conservative Party has misused or abused social media they can complain about that to the Party. If they want to complain, they must follow these rules. If a person under the age of 16 wishes to make a complaint it can be made by their parent or guardian.
If a person is complained about under these rules, he or she is entitled a reasonable opportunity to defend themselves but must do so by following these rules.
The person making a complaint is called the Complainant. The person who is complained about is called the Respondent.
In these rules, a person’s complaint is called a complaint. A response to the complaint is called a response. Together, they are both called a matter.
More than one person can make the same complaint. More than one person can be the Respondent to the complaint. In these rules “Complainant” and “Respondent” refer to singular or plural.
How to make a complaint
Making the complaint
- Make it promptly. A Complainant must make a complaint promptly after becoming aware of misuse or abuse complained about. Any delay in making a complaint may prejudice it being resolved. Serious delay may mean that the complaint may be rejected because it is not possible to deal with it fairly. What amounts to delay or serious delay will depend on the facts of each case.
- Provide all relevant information. Any complaint must provide the following information:
- The name of the Complainant including two sets of contact details;
- The name of the Respondent and their position in the Party (if known);
- A clear factual description of what the Respondent has done;
- When they did it;
- How they did it (including naming the social media used, if known);
- Why it is being complained about;
- A calendar date when the Complainant first became aware of the misuse or abuse.
- If previous steps have been taken to resolve the matter, an explanation of what they are.
- If the matter is in court proceedings or with the police, details of that.
- Provide all relevant evidence. In addition to this information, the Complainant must also provide ALL the evidence they want to rely on including witness evidence. This is the only opportunity under these Rules to provide evidence to support a complaint. Illegible material will not be accepted.
- The Respondent is only obliged to respond to the complaint.
- Send the complaint to the correct place. The complaint must be sent or delivered to The Investigation Officer at The Conservative party, CCHQ, 4 Matthew Parker Street, LondonSW1H 9HQ or to an email marked for his attention at “[email protected]”
Sending the complaint to the Respondent
- After the complaint has been received, the Investigating Officer will consider whether the complaint should be rejected or accepted. The Officer will reject the complaint if it is considered (i) having regard to what information and evidence is required, it is incomplete; (ii) to have no obvious merit and/or (iii) to be frivolous or vexatious; and/or (iv) the evidence is, at first glance, clearly too weak to prove the allegation on the balance of probabilities and/or (v) there has been a serious delay making the complaint; and/or (vi) there is another compelling and legally justifiable reason to do so. The Complainant will be told of any rejection of the complaint at this stage as soon as possible. It is permissible to re-make the complaint on one further occasion. Thereafter, the complaint will not be accepted.
- In all other cases, the Investigation Officer will promptly send the complaint to the Respondent without undertaking any further investigation.
The Response to the complaint
- The Respondent is entitled to admit the complaint or deny it. The Respondent must tell the Investigation Officer in writing whether the complaint is admitted or denied in accordance with these Rules.
- If the Respondent denies the complaint he or she must (i) give all their reasons for doing so and; (ii) provide all evidence in support of their position, including any witness evidence; and (iii) provide any points in mitigation. This is the only opportunity that they will have to explain their position. Illegible material will not be accepted.
- The Respondent must communicate the response to the complaint by 18.00hrs on the fifth working day after the Investigation Officer sent out the complaint. To avoid doubt, the first of those five days is the first working day after the complaint was sent out. For example, if the complaint was sent on Monday 1 June, the Respondent must respond to the Investigation Officer by 18.00hrs on Monday 8 June. The Investigating Officer may extend the deadline from five working days up to no more than 10 working days if either the Respondent request it or there is a very compelling reason to grant that request.
- If the Respondent fails to admit or deny the complaint, or fails to respond to the complaint at all, the matter will be referred to the Party Chairman on the expiry of the five day deadline specified above without further notice or reference to the Respondent.
- If the Respondent admits the complaint and wishes to make amends themselves, they must tell the Investigation Officer and explain what steps are intended and when they will be taken.
Referring the Matter to the Party Chairman for a Decision
- After the Investigation Officer has received the response to the complaint, the matter shall be referred to the Party Chairman as soon as possible.
- The Party Chairman will decide whether the complaint is upheld or rejected. If it is rejected, the Complainant will be told in writing as soon as possible with reasons. If it is accepted, the Complainant and the Respondent will be told in writing as soon as possible with reasons.
- If it is accepted, the Party Chairman is entitled, in his or her absolute discretion, having consulted with the Chairman of the National Conservative Convention, to sanction a Respondent where a complaint has been upheld or take such other regulatory step as he or she sees fit. The sanctions and regulatory steps that may be imposed are set out in schedule 1. The sanctions and steps are deemed to be effective immediately unless stated otherwise.
- The Party Chairman may, instead of imposing a sanction and in his or her absolute discretion, refer the matter to a Disciplinary Sub Committee constituted under the Rules and Procedure of Disciplinary Sub-Committee for further consideration including the imposition of any sanction.
- Failure by a Respondent to comply with any decision by the Party Chairman is a discrete disciplinary offence under the Party Constitution and may justify separate disciplinary proceedings being brought.
- The Party Chairman may in his absolute discretion delegate any rights and powers set out in Rules 13-17 to others who will, in so acting as a delegate, do so on the Party Chairman’s behalf.
- For the avoidance of doubt any delegate of the Party Chairman possesses the same rights and powers under these rules as the Party Chairman.
- The Respondent has the right to appeal a decision of the Party Chairman. A notice of appeal must be made in writing within 3 working days of the Party Chairman’s decision being received by the Respondent, excluding (for the purposes of calculating time) the day of receipt. Any notice of appeal made after this time shall not be valid. Notice is given when it is actually received, not when it is sent. Notice may be sent and received by email ([email protected]) as well as by post and fax. An appeal must be made in writing, and set out full grounds, to the Secretary to the Board of the Conservative Party, CCHQ, 4 Matthew Parker Street, London, SW1H 9HQ. The appeals procedure set out in Appendix 1 of the Rules and Procedure of the Disciplinary Sub-Committee (available upon request) shall apply.
- It is permissible for an appeal committee to impose a different penalty to the one imposed by the Party Chairman, including a more serious penalty.
A member of the Conservative Party may have “misused” social media when the use:
- commits a crime
- commits an unlawful act within the definition of the Equality Act 2010
- publishes or republishes data in breach of GDPR
- breaches the Code of Conduct for Party Representatives (if applicable)
- breaches the Code of Conduct for the Leadership and Management of Volunteers (if applicable)
- breaches the Party’s Safeguarding Policy
- in any way that, intentionally or not, breaches any part of the Party Constitution, including in particular in any way that brings the Party into disrepute in contravention of Article 79
- breaches the Party’s Opposition Candidacy and Agency Rules 2019
- breaches the confidentiality of any disciplinary process
- to “like” or “share” or “repost” or otherwise republish or endorse posts made by others that (had they been Party members) would breach any of these criteria
“Use” for these purposes means posting or endorsing information on social media. It is immaterial whether the social media account belongs to the member or is in the name of the member. This includes social media accounts belonging to, for example, Constituency Associations or Federations, Conservative Council Groups, Branches, Campaign Groups and Affiliate Groups.
“Use” covers situations where Party members allow others access to social media accounts over which they have control.
Updated July 2021
- These are the sanctions that the Party Chairman may impose if the complaint under these Rules is admitted or he or she considers that such a complaint is upheld.