Former parliament chair Arib asks court to stop bullying inquiry

Photo: PvdA/Wikipedia

Former MP Khadija Arib is taking legal action to stop an investigation into her behaviour during her tenure as parliamentary chairwoman by disputing its lawfulness in court.

The inquiry, launched by the parliamentary executive committee in response to two anonymous letters from staff accusing Arib of creating “an unsafe environment”, prompted her departure last year after 24 years as a Labour MP, including five as chair of parliament.

The announcement of Arib’s legal action, confirmed by her lawyers in the Volkskrant, was made in a briefing to MPs by caretaker parliamentary chair Vera Bergkamp who ousted Arib from the post in 2016 and initiated the inquiry.

According to Bergkamp, the inquiry has reached its final stage but its conclusion will now be postponed because of “legal steps against parliament, the executive and research bureau Hoffmann” by Arib, she told MPs who questioned her about the progress of the inquiry.

Arib described the inquiry at the time as a “stab in the back” and vigorously denied allegations of bullying and harassment.

She also claimed not to have had access to documents, including the letters containing the allegations the inquiry was based on. “I still don’t know in concrete terms what they are about,” she told talk show Zomergasten earlier this month.

Her lawyers, Geert-Jan and Carry Knoops, said that having the investigation declared unlawful in court is the only option left open to Arib.

Denied access

They claimed she is being denied access to the interviews of her accusers, contradicting statements by the parliamentary executive that Arib has access to all documents, while “hundreds of pages” of documentation can only be studied in situ.

On behalf of Arib, the lawyers said she regretted the news had been made public by Bergkamp before the judge had had a chance to consider the case.

MPs are also putting pressure on Bergkamp to share the documents the executive’s decision to launch the inquiry was based on.

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