MPs set to suspend Tory Peter Bone today for exposing himself to aide

MPs set to suspend Tory Peter Bone today for exposing himself to young aide – setting up another potentially damaging by-election for Rishi Sunak – as victim says ‘brutal’ experience left him a ‘broken shell’

MPs are expected to approve a six-week suspension for sex abuse Tory Peter Bone today that could trigger yet another by-election headache for Rishi Sunak.

The Commons is set to rubber stamp the ban for the Wellingborough MP, 70, after an independent investigation found he carried out a campaign of bullying against a young aide.

If the suspension passes it will trigger a recall petition in the former minister’s Northamptonshire seat that could pave the way for a by-election, the latest in a line of votes triggered by Tory sleaze. Mr Bone continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Ahead of the vote the complainant in the case has described how Mr Bone’s behavour left him a ‘broken shell’ suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

He told the BBC about the ‘physical, emotional, psychological abuse’ he had endured.

The former minister could lose his Wellingborough seat as the length of the ban will trigger a recall petition, and set up another tricky by-election for Rishi Sunak

He gained a reputation for mentioning ‘Mrs Bone’ – his wife Jenny – in the House of Commons, but they split in 2018 after he left her for Helen Harrison, a married physiotherapist 20 years his junior.

‘Peter’s behaviour was erratic. His temper was often explosive. I described it as like a, like a pendulum. He would go from one type of, kind of, personality to another,’ he said.

‘It was very hard to predict. And that kind of… left me feeling quite under siege… a kind of siege mentality in terms of the relentless shouting, the screaming, the hitting.

‘The physical, emotional, psychological abuse as well as what happened later was just constantly on my mind. It was relentless to be honest.’

He also claimed he was ‘never given a clear timeline of events or even an estimated one’ regarding his complaint to the Conservatives.

‘I was left in this kind of limbo. I was effectively ghosted for three years by the party.’

A Conservative spokesperson told the broadcaster that the case had been investigated under the party’s previous code of conduct and complaints process. The party said that the alleged complainant had withdrawn from the process before the case was heard.

‘Under the current process, the complainant’s case would have been referred to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme as it is a workplace matter, not a party matter,’ the spokesperson told the BBC.

Mr Bone’s majority in Wellingborough in 2019 was 18,540, which in normal times would make it a very safe Tory seat. He has been the MP since 2005.

But the party last week saw a majority of more than 25,000 overturned in a byelection in Mid Bedfordshire, meaning it could fall to Labour if the recall petition is successful. It needs the signatures of 10 per cent of the electorate in the seat to set up a new vote and effectively end Mr Bone’s political career.

He was last week stripped of the Tory whip after the investigation found he bullied and sexually harassed his ex-aide.

He exposed himself on a business trip after booking them shared hotel room and on other occasions demanded office massages, according to the Independent Expert Panel.

Five allegations by a Westminster staffer were made about Mr Bone in October 2021, having had a complaint to then-prime minister Theresa May in 2017 unresolved, according to the IEP report. 

The standards watchdog ruled the MP ‘committed many varied acts of bullying and one act of sexual misconduct’ against a member of his staff in 2012 and 2013.

It said he was verbally abused and hit with a rolled-up document and subjected to an ‘unwanted and humiliating ritual’ where he was forced him to sit with his hands in his lap when the MP was unhappy with his work

Mr Bone said today that the allegations against him were ‘false and untrue’ and made by an ex-employee who made them ‘years after leaving my unemployment’. He suggested he was seeking legal advice.

But the panel said he had demonstrated a ‘wilful pattern of bullying (that) also included an unwanted incident of sexual misconduct.’

The report noted: ‘The complainant was trapped in a room with the respondent in a hotel in Madrid, not knowing what was going to happen next. This was a deliberate and conscious abuse of power using a sexual mechanism: indecent exposure.

‘It was woven into a pattern of inappropriate behaviour which also included requests for massages of his shoulders and neck and instructions to put hands in laps, including forcibly putting the complainant’s hands in his lap.’

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