Peter Bone stripped of Tory whip over bullying and sexual misconduct findings
Former minister Peter Bone has had the Tory whip removed after being found to have committed bullying and sexual misconduct against a staff member.
The Conservatives acted a day after a watchdog recommended he should be suspended from the Commons for six weeks – potentially triggering a by-election in his Wellingborough seat.
Mr Bone was alleged to have exposed himself to a member of staff along with a series of acts of bullying.
Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel (IEP) said the MP “committed many varied acts of bullying and one act of sexual misconduct” against a member of his staff in 2012 and 2013.
A spokeswoman for Chief Whip Simon Hart said: “Following a report by the Independent Expert Panel, the Chief Whip has removed the conservative whip from Peter Bone MP.”
The suspension, if approved by MPs, could lead to the Conservative facing a recall petition that would pave the way for a by-election in the seat, which Mr Bone has held since 2005.
Mr Bone said the allegations are “false and untrue” and “without foundation” as he vowed to continue representing his constituents.
He said an Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) investigation into him “was flawed, procedurally unfair and didn’t comply with its own rules and regulations”.
Mr Bone was made deputy leader of the Commons in 2022 in the dying days of Boris Johnson’s administration.
The Liberal Democrats have demanded an inquiry into what Mr Johnson and other ministers knew about the allegations Mr Bone faced at the time he was given the frontbench role.
Lib Dem Cabinet Office spokeswoman Christine Jardine has written to the country’s top civil servant Simon Case calling for the investigation.
She said: “We need an urgent inquiry to understand what Conservative ministers knew about the allegations against Peter Bone when these complaints were made.
“Boris Johnson must also be held accountable for his decision to appoint Peter Bone as deputy leader of the Commons despite the complaints made against him.
“Given the failure of the Conservative Party to properly investigate these complaints, it is crucial that we get to the bottom of what happened. The public deserve better than another Conservative Party cover-up.”
Five allegations about Mr Bone were made by a Westminster staffer in October 2021, with a complaint to then-prime minister Theresa May in 2017 going unresolved, according to the IEP report.
The complaints included four allegations of bullying, saying Mr Bone:
– “Verbally belittled, ridiculed, abused and humiliated” his employee;
– “Repeatedly physically struck and threw things” at him, including hitting him with his hand or an object such as a pencil or rolled-up document;
– Imposed an “unwanted and humiliating ritual” on him by forcing him to sit with his hands in his lap when the MP was unhappy with his work; and
– Ostracised the complainant following an incident on a work trip to Madrid.
The complainant also alleged that Mr Bone “repeatedly pressurised” the member of staff to give him a massage in the office and, on a visit to Madrid with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking, indecently exposed himself to the complainant in the bathroom and bedroom of the hotel room they were sharing.
In his response to the IEP’s findings, Mr Bone said: “As I have maintained throughout these proceedings, none of the misconduct allegations against me ever took place.
“They are false and untrue claims. They are without foundation.”
He said the complainant had not raised the issues during their employment and said ICGS rules meant he could not “detail my views on the huge inconsistencies and lack of evidence in the allegations”.
Mr Bone said he is “discussing with lawyers what action could and should be taken”.
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