Peter Bone, a well-established member of the Commons, may face a six-week suspension following an investigation which unearthed evidence of bullying and inappropriate sexual behaviour towards a former colleague. This suspension could potentially instigate a by-election in his Wellingborough constituency, a historical Tory stronghold that current polls suggest may swing towards Labour.
Parliament’s behavioural watchdog discovered damning indications that Mr. Bone misbehaved with an aide, involving both indecent exposure and physical assault. Despite the allegations, Mr. Bone continues to vehemently deny the charges.
As an immediate reaction, the Conservative Party retracted the whip, forbidding Mr. Bone from standing for re-election as a Tory candidate. Consequently, he now sits in parliament as an independent figure. The suspension was supported by fellow MPs who voted in favour of Mr. Bone’s departure from parliament for six weeks.
The recommendation for this suspension originated from Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel (IEP), after it found that Mr. Bone breached sexual conduct rules during an overseas trip by indecently exposing himself to a staff member.
Lucy Powell, Labour’s shadow leader of the House of Commons, further inflamed the situation by calling for Mr. Bone’s resignation. She argued that the residents of Wellingborough deserved a representative they can take pride in and opined that Labour was the only party capable of bringing this needed change.
Philip Hollobone, a neighbouring Tory MP, expressed sadness over the expulsion, stating it represented a sombre day in parliament. He praised Mr. Bone’s 18-year record as a dedicated MP, whose efforts had impacted the lives of numerous local residents. He also hinted at initiating a petition to stave off a by-election, citing Mr. Bone’s long-standing popularity among constituents.
While a noteworthy figure in Tory politics since the 1970s, Mr. Bone only made his debut in the Commons in 2005. Widely recognized as a leading voice within the Tory Party, he was known for jocular references to his wife in parliamentary debates. His notable political achievements include turning Wellingborough into an unwavering Conservative stronghold and serving as the deputy Commons leader under Boris Johnson.
This suspension and potential subsequent by-election have raised concerns for the current Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who has watched his inherited majority shrink due to recent electoral defeats. More so, given Mr. Bone’s history of winning substantial majorities in previous elections.
During his tenure as deputy Commons leader, Mr. Bone was responsible for managing complaints of bullying, a responsibility that ironically, surfaces as he faces allegations of his misconduct and abuse of an ex-staffer.
The Conservative Party launched an investigation into these complaints against Mr. Bone in 2018, which were eventually upheld by the IEP. The allegations against Mr. Bone led to five separate complaints involving sexually inappropriate conduct during an overseas trip.
Despite appealing against the investigation’s findings, arguing a flawed process, Mr. Bone’s appeal was ultimately dismissed. Now, the repercussions of his alleged actions could see him removed from the House of Commons for a six-week period.