A Labour MP has resigned after being suspended for “serious sexual misconduct.”
Christian Matheson apologized to the complainant in a statement for “the hurt I have caused.”
But he added that he is “dismayed” to have been found guilty “of several allegations that I know to be untrue”.
An independent panel on MPs’ conduct recommended Mr Matheson should be suspended from the Commons for four weeks over the allegations.
Mr Matheson described the proposed suspension as “excessive and unfair”.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards upheld two complaints of sexual misconduct brought by a former member of staff against Mr Matheson.
He allegedly invited her on a private trip abroad and “the invitation was sexually motivated, unwanted, and had placed the complainant under pressure and intimidated her”, according to the report.
He also “linked arms with her; made personal comments about her appearance while looking at her suggestively; made her hold his hand as they left and insisted on accompanying her to her bus stop, and once there invited her back to his flat, kissed her twice on the forehead and attempted to kiss her on the mouth” during a work event outside Parliament.
According to the report, the commissioner “concluded that all of these were unwanted and unwelcome sexual advances.”
A Labour spokesperson said: “This is an incredibly serious case. There must be zero tolerance for sexual harassment and the Labour Party has acted immediately following the ICGS findings.
“We will now select a candidate that the people of Chester can be proud to vote for.”
Mr Matheson has been the City of Chester MP since 2015.
“I have today, with great sadness, tendered my resignation as Member of Parliament for the City of Chester,” he said in a statement.
“This follows publication of a report which had found me guilty of sexual misconduct.
“From the start, I accepted I had committed a minor breach of the code and had hoped that an honest and open approach would stand me in a fair light.
“This has proven not to be the case and I am dismayed that I have been found guilty of several allegations that I know to be untrue.
“Indeed my insistence on what I know to be true – that I had no sexual motivation in this matter – was held against me as a refusal to accept my guilt, and caused an increased sanction which I felt was disproportionate.
“Despite provable factual inaccuracies in the sanctions report, my appeal against sanction was not even considered, for the same reason.
“Therefore, I faced a suspension from the House of four weeks.
“Whilst I believe that this is an excessive and unfair penalty, I cannot challenge the process further. I believe that the honourable and right thing to do now is to resign my seat and seek to rebuild my life elsewhere.
“I would ask for privacy for my family. This matter has also caused a great toll on my health, requiring my hospitalisation, and I ask that my privacy is respected while I recover.
“I will forever be grateful to my constituency, and my party, for giving me the honour to serve, and I apologise to the people of Chester, and to the House of Commons, for the disrepute I have brought.
“I once again apologise to the complainant in my case, for the hurt I have caused.”
His resignation means that a by-election will be held in the City of Chester.
In 2019, Mr Matheson retained his seat with a 6,164 majority.