Liberal Democrats

Make a complaint

Should I make a complaint?

Our independent complaints system is here to resolve serious issues within our party. It is run by dedicated volunteers who give up their time to investigate, resolve and decide what to do about complaints.

This page and the form below aim to help you decide whether to submit a complaint, and - if you choose to do so - how to prepare effectively.

If you have previously submitted a complaint and have additional information to provide or want to raise a related issue, please do not submit a new complaint. Rather, use the contact details previously provided to add the new information to your previous complaint.

What happens if I submit a complaint?

A plain English guide to the complaints process is here. If you choose to submit a complaint one of four things will happen:

  • If there is minimal risk to the party’s reputation as a whole or the matter is not serious enough, the complaint will be dismissed
  • If there is not much risk to the party’s reputation as a whole, the complaint will be referred for (mediated) informal resolution. 
  • If there is serious risk to the party’s reputation as a whole or the matter is serious it will be referred to an independent investigator or to an expedited complaints procedure.
  • We will also consider whether a temporary suspension of someone’s party membership is needed.

If there is any allegation of criminal activity then the complaint will be passed to the police instead. 

Complaints relating to policy disagreements will generally be dismissed.

The majority of complaints relate to social media posts; please bear in mind that one post is unlikely to lead to a significant sanction. Consider the degree of offense or risk to the party the post may cause before lodging a complaint. 

How long will it take?

The complaints process is run by volunteers. How long it takes to resolve a complaint depends on the complexity of the complaint and the availability of volunteers.

Most complaints are resolved or dismissed within 90 days but complex cases can take much longer.

Making a complaint is not a quick fix for a problem you have today. It’s about the medium and long term risk to the party.

What sanctions can be imposed?

The most serious sanction that can be imposed is ending someone’s membership of the party, permanently or for a temporary period. 

Other sanctions include suspending people from officer positions within the party, or from being able to stand as candidates in elections, as well as being required to do training or offer an apology.

What could I do instead of making a formal complaint?

Please think carefully about whether making a formal complaint is the best way of resolving the issue you have. 

We want the complaints system to work well for people experiencing serious issues. Please bear in mind that if you submit a complaint about another issue, this will take time to process and therefore may slow up the handling of serious issues. The system is not for disagreements about policy, or for resolving personality clashes, or for issues that are best resolved informally.

There are lots of different options for resolving issues informally within the party, including:

  • Raising the issue with your local party chair or executive, your regional party executive, or your state party executive.
  • Speaking with the person directly, explaining the impact their behaviour is having on you and the party, and asking them to consider changing their behaviour - as long as you feel safe in doing so.

What are the chances of my complaint being upheld?

Your case will be judged on its merits.

For context, at the moment 70% of complaints dismissed at the first stage; 5% are referred to informal resolution (via a mediator); 11% result in a formal sanction of some kind.

These figures show that the complaints system is currently being used for issues that do not pose a substantial risk to the party as a whole. Please think carefully about whether there is a better route for your issue than submitting a complaint.

It’s also worth remembering that we are a party that believes in freedom of expression, and values debate about policy.

What does making a complaint involve?

To make a complaint you should prepare evidence and then submit it through the form at the bottom of this page. You will need to provide:

  • Contact details for yourself and, if possible, the person you are complaining about.
  • A description of your complaint.
  • Evidence about your complaint. This needs to be in enough detail for an independent person to form a judgement about what has happened and/or to help them seek further evidence. You can upload documents when you submit your complaint.
  • A description of what actions, if any, you have taken to resolve the issue already. In most cases, your complaint is more likely to be heard and then upheld if you have taken reasonable steps to resolve things before making a formal complaint - although please only do this where you feel safe doing so.
  • What resolution you would like to see.

You can remain anonymous, although choosing to do so can slow down the complaints process as it can make investigations harder to carry out. If your complaint makes it to the panel stage, it is unlikely you will be able to maintain anonymity unless there is a safety concern.

It is worth preparing the documents above before you start submitting the complaint, as this will make it easier for you to complete the form.

How do I submit a complaint?

Submit your complaint

 

If you do not receive an acknowledgement and case number from the Standards Office within 10 working days, please send us an email to [email protected] to follow up.

To read the disciplinary process, please click here.

 

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