A report into the culture in the House of Lords has found that staff were “bullied and harassed” by peers.
An inquiry conducted by Naomi Ellenbogen QC said “unacceptable behaviour” by “known offenders” in the House of Lords had been tolerated.
“The existence of this culture is unworthy of any institution,” she wrote.
Lords Speaker Lord Fowler said “bullying and harassment” had no place in the House.
The inquiry was launched in 2018 after allegations of bullying and harassment in Parliament hit the headlines.
Publishing her report, Ms Ellenbogen wrote: “The prevailing culture and behaviours in the House of Lords, as a place of work, have not been conducive to an open and supportive culture to ensure that all those working there are treated with dignity and respect.
“Staff have bullied and harassed other staff. Members have bullied and harassed staff.
“On the whole, staff who have experienced bullying and harassment have tended not to complain, formally or otherwise, in the belief that nothing will happen and/or for fear of reprisal.”
She wrote there existed in the House of Lords “a culture of undue deference, fear and hierarchy that has put members and clerks at the top, and everyone else below”.
According to the report, that meant “staff can become institutionalised, bad habits can become entrenched, poor behaviour can go unchecked, urban myths can develop and beliefs which may once have been justified can survive and flourish when no longer warranted.”
The inquiry took 180 contributions from staff who had worked for the House of Lords within the past six years.
The report does not name the alleged perpetrators but does call for “root and branch reforms” to tackle “systemic cultural issues”.
Ms Ellenbogen makes 19 recommendations focused on changing “the various toxic behaviours” and improving “the options available to address inappropriate behaviour”.
The recommendations include compulsory training for both members of the House of Lords and their staff, the creation of a unified cross-parliamentary human resources team, and the appointment of a director general of the House of Lords.
Lord Fowler said the report was “an important step” towards ensuring that bullying and harassment were eradicated from the institution, and the House of Lords Commission would consider Ms Ellenbogen’s recommendations.
The inquiry – which started last year – was instigated by the House of Lords Commission. It came after a damning report by High Court judge Dame Laura Cox found lewd, aggressive and intimidating behaviour by MPs and senior House of Commons staff had been “tolerated and concealed” for years.
A report into the treatment of those employed by MPs, rather than House of Commons staff, is due to be published on Thursday.