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There is an ongoing independent investigation into Conservative Party complaints procedures

Young Conservative members are calling on the party to reform its complaints process, citing a lack of clarity and transparency.

A number have told BBC Wales they have raised these concerns as part of a Welsh Conservative internal review.

Young members have expressed frustration at the way the party has dealt with allegations of inappropriate behaviour against Delyn MP Rob Roberts.

A Tory party spokesperson said it takes “any complaint very seriously”.

Speaking to BBC Wales, one Welsh Conservative councillor said the party needed to get “a HR professional in to deal with the complaints procedure in Wales”.

“The process for complaining is especially unclear for members doing voluntary work for the party,” the councillor said.

Another party member told BBC Wales they “wouldn’t know how to register a complaint or raise a grievance. There’s a lack of transparency”.

Aden Hallam, 24, has been a Conservative Party member for two years and has volunteered for the party at local and national elections.

In June, he started an online campaign to reform the way the party handles complaints against elected representatives.

Last year, he made a sexual harassment complaint to the party about a Conservative councillor in England. He claims he received an acknowledgment of his complaint, but then had no response for over a year.

“Since then I haven’t received a single email, phone call or letter from the Conservative Party regarding this complaint and it has been over a year now,” he said.

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Aden Hallam

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Aden Hallam says it feels like the party does not care

Mr Hallam added the councillor then went “on to have further successes within the party”.

“It was rather upsetting that I’d made a complaint of that nature, which was extremely serious and upsetting to me, to then see the party seemingly take no action against this individual and actually then reward them further down the line.

“It feels like they just didn’t believe what had happened but it also feels like they just don’t care.”

He said he was concerned “the individual may do this again”.

After BBC Wales approached the Conservative Party for comment they said they would get in touch with Mr Hallam.

‘The party needs to admit there’s a problem’

He added: “All I want from the party is to have a complaints system where people feel like justice is done, where people feel confident that if they are a victim of bullying, harassment, any sort of inappropriate behaviour that the party will make sure it is dealt with in any manner that is appropriate.

“I just feel the party needs to first of all admit there’s a problem.”

Mr Hallam posted about his own complaint on social media after allegations of inappropriate behaviour against the Conservative MP for Delyn, Rob Roberts, came to light.

In July, the Conservative Party said it was investigating Rob Roberts’s behaviour after messages seen by BBC Wales showed Mr Roberts inviting a 21-year-old female intern to “fool around” with him.

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The party says an investigation into the behaviour of Rob Roberts is continuing

Mr Roberts also admitted asking out another House of Commons employee, which resulted in them changing jobs. The MP told BBC Wales that he recognised the request to ask the staffer out “was inappropriate,” but did not comment on the messages sent to the intern.

The Conservative Party confirmed that the investigation into his behaviour was ongoing.

It is facing increased scrutiny about its handling of complaints after the prime minister defended a decision not to suspend a Conservative MP and former minister who has been arrested and bailed on suspicion of rape.

What have other party members said?

Other Conservative Party members in Wales, who wished to remain anonymous, have also raised concerns about the party’s complaints process.

One member and chair of a local Conservative association in Wales said there needs to be “a clear structure for who takes responsibility for complaints”.

“Do you deal with the association chair, the area chair, the Welsh board, or central office?”

The member also criticised the party’s handling of allegations against Rob Roberts, saying he should “lose the whip” and be suspended from the party’s group in Westminster.

Another told BBC Wales the party should have acted more decisively in suspending Rob Roberts pending an investigation into the allegations against him.

“His actions were wrong, inappropriate, unacceptable and we want something done about it. We’ve exhausted our powers to complain internally‚Ķ We don’t really know what’s going on.

“A proportionate response would be to withdraw the whip from him. This doesn’t make things safe for young male and female members and activists, it sets the wrong tone.”

‘It took months’ before investigation was announced

The chair of a local young Conservative association in England said it took “months” of junior party members talking about the allegations against Rob Roberts before the party publicly announced an investigation.

“It was constantly pushed under the rug by the party – and only properly treated as it should be after the media covered it.

“Young workers for the party aren’t being listened to when they knock on the door the first time around.

“I wouldn’t know who to contact apart from emailing the standard CCHQ email – that’s even as a co-chair for a young Conservatives association. The communication and bridge just isn’t there.”

What has the Conservative Party said?

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “We take any complaint very seriously. We have a Code of Conduct where people can report complaints in confidence.

“If an allegation of criminal wrongdoing is raised, we would advise the individual to contact the police.”

There is currently an ongoing independent investigation into the Conservative Party’s complaints procedures.

‘Great deal of mental stress’

In response to the allegations, Rob Roberts told BBC Wales in July that he had invited a parliamentary staff member to dinner.

He said: “My invitation was not accepted and the staff member did not feel comfortable about it.

“I do now recognise that it was inappropriate to have extended the invitation to a member of staff in the first place.

“However, I have found the last few months and the ‘coming out’ process to have been particularly challenging and the cause of a great deal of mental stress to me.”

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