Prime Minister Maintains Support for Minister, Spotted Campaigning Alongside Suspended Peter Bone


London (Parliament Politic Magazine) – Last Wednesday, the House of Commons endorsed a six-week suspension for Mr. Peter Bone following the findings of Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel (IEP), which upheld allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct against him in connection to a staff member. The panel’s investigation revealed that Mr. Bone had allegedly indecently exposed himself to the complainant in a hotel room’s bathroom during a work-related trip to Madrid.

Tory MP Peter Bone Faced Suspension

Despite being photographed campaigning with former Tory MP Peter Bone, who faced suspension from the Commons due to allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct, the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, maintains his confidence in the work and pensions minister, Tom Pursglove. Downing Street confirmed this, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman responding affirmatively when asked about Sunak’s confidence in Mr. Pursglove.

Mr. Bone has adamantly denied these allegations. A recall petition, slated to open next month, will lead to a by-election in his Wellingborough constituency if it garners signatures from 10% of eligible voters. Here is what he told the reporters:

 “I mean, as a minister, yes. Obviously, those are political issues in terms of campaigning stuff, so probably one for my political colleagues.” Continued to talk about the issue again, the spokesman said: “I’d have to point you to political colleagues about decisions around campaigning.”

Mr. Bone has steadfastly denied the allegations made against him. The impending recall petition, scheduled to commence next month, would instigate a by-election if it receives signatures from 10% of the voters in his Wellingborough constituency.

It was only when the ICGS reached out to the Conservative Party that the party’s investigation appeared to regain momentum. In March 2022, the former staff member affirmed his desire to pursue the complaint, which had been pending for a substantial period.

Campaign For The Conservative Party

It’s worth mentionable that even after Mr. Bone was stripped of the Tory whip just one day after the report’s publication on October 16, he continued to campaign for the Conservative Party in Northamptonshire. The Sunday Mirror disclosed that Mr. Tom Pursglove, the Member of Parliament for Corby, was engaged in door-knocking alongside Mr. Peter Bone, only two days following the approval of Bone’s suspension by fellow MPs. When approached by the newspaper for comment, the Conservative minister declined to address whether it was appropriate for him to be canvassing with a suspended Member of Parliament.

Anneliese Dodds, Chair of the Labour Party, has penned a letter to the Prime Minister in which she expressed her view that it is “totally inappropriate for a serving MP and minister to promote Peter Bone in this way.” She went on to ask Rishi Sunak what measures would be taken regarding Mr. Tom Pursglove’s actions in this matter. At this time, there has been no official response from the Conservative Party regarding the situation.

In earlier developments this month, a distinct inquiry conducted by Parliament’s behavior watchdog, the Independent Expert Panel (IEP), established that the Member of Parliament for Wellingborough had contravened sexual misconduct regulations by allegedly indecently exposing himself to a member of his staff during an overseas trip.

Read More: Urgent Plea for Gaza Ceasefire Echoed at Landmark UK Parliamentary Gathering in Solidarity with Palestine

Allegations of Bullying Staff Member

The panel substantiated five instances of bullying, which included verbally demeaning the staff member, physically assaulting him, and throwing objects at him. Mr. Peter Bone appealed against the findings of the investigation, asserting that it was flawed. However, his appeal was ultimately dismissed. In light of the watchdog’s recommendations, which included a six-week suspension from the House of Commons, the Conservative Party withdrew its support for Mr. Bone, thereby rendering him an independent MP.

In September 2017, an individual lodged a complaint with the Conservative Party. The investigative process continued for slightly over a year, during which a panel acknowledged the existence of a “potential breach” of party guidelines and determined that the complaint warranted further examination.

However, it would take another three years before the former staff member received any communication from the party. Throughout this period, he claimed to have persistently pursued updates on the matter but received what he described as a “dismissive” response.

After an almost three-year-long wait, the individual decided to take action and formally filed a complaint with Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS). The ICGS was established in 2018 to address cases of misconduct involving Members of Parliament.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.