Investigations into alleged misconduct by MPs and parliamentary staff have been halted because of the Queen’s death, triggering criticism.
The Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) – set up after the bullying scandal that rocked Westminster in 2018 – has told alleged victims that its work has been “paused”.
Similarly, the standards commissioner, Kathryn Stone, who oversees the MPs’ code of conduct, said her office’s work had been “suspended to observe the period of national mourning”.
The GMB union criticised the move by the ICGS, warning it might “prolong a process that many staff already find to be excessively difficult and lengthy”.
Jenny Symmons, chair of its branch for MPs’ staff, said: “We’ve expressed our disappointment to the director of the ICGS in pausing their investigations.
“MPs’ staff will continue to work during the mourning period and serving constituents, so we believe their bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct cases should be progressed by the ICGS in the same way.”
The Queen’s state funeral will not take place until next Monday, which means a delay of at least one week until the national period of mourning will end.
Parliament is not expected to resume sitting until Wednesday next week at the earliest and it could take longer for business to return to normal.
Jo Willows, the director of the ICGS, did not provide a reason for the decision to pause investigations, telling alleged victims: “I shall let you know when investigations will resume.”
She directed anyone needing support urgently to a helpline and to her office’s casework and inclusion officer.
The ICGS has been investigating the alleged groping of two men by the former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher, the scandal that forced Boris Johnson out of office.
Both it and the standards commissioner have ongoing inquiries into David Warburton, the Conservative MP suspended over allegations of sexual harassment and cocaine use.
Ms Stone is investigating whether he broke the MPs’ code of conduct through “paid advocacy”, failure to declare an interest, and over rules concerning the declaration of “gifts, benefits and hospitality”.
Her website lists three other ongoing inquiries, into the Tory MPs Andrew Bridgen and Crispin Blunt and the Labour MP Ian Byrne.
No 10 has said it expects government business to return “more to normal” after Monday’s funeral, although royal mourning will continue.
Liz Truss is expected to fly to New York for the UN leaders’ meeting as early as Monday evening, returning to the UK late on Wednesday or early Thursday.
That would allow her promised mini-budget to be held on Thursday next week, before parliament breaks up again for the Labour and Conservative party conferences.