MPs are expected to vote on Wednesday on the suspension of former minister Peter Bone after he was found to have committed bullying and sexual misconduct against a staff member.
Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel (IEP) said the MP for Wellingborough “committed many varied acts of bullying and one act of sexual misconduct” against a member of his staff in 2012 and 2013.
The recommended six-week suspension, if approved by MPs, could lead to Mr Bone facing a recall petition that would pave the way for another possible by-election.
Mr Bone, who has had the Tory whip removed, has said the allegations are “false and untrue” and “without foundation”, and has vowed to continue representing his constituents.
Any by-election would see Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives battling to keep the Wellingborough seat Mr Bone has held since 2005.
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”.