A Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) is currently confronting the prospect of a six-week suspension from the House of Commons due to allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct involving a staff member.

According to a report from the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) within Parliament, Peter Bone has been accused of “trapping” a staff member in a room where he exposed himself, an act deemed a “deliberate and conscious abuse of power.” The report also states that Mr. Bone, who represents Wellingborough, engaged in “numerous instances of bullying and one instance of sexual misconduct” involving a staff member between 2012 and 2013. As a result, the IEP has recommended a six-week suspension from the House of Commons, which could potentially trigger a by-election and create challenges for Rishi Sunak.

In response to these allegations, Mr. Bone, who is 70 years old, has strongly denied the IEP report’s accuracy, stating, “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 has also voiced his concerns about the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) investigation, alleging it was flawed, procedurally unfair, and did not adhere to its own rules and regulations.

The IEP report reveals that five allegations were made by a Westminster staffer in October 2021 after a complaint initially raised to then-Prime Minister Theresa May in 2017 went unaddressed. These allegations encompass four instances of bullying, including verbal belittlement, ridicule, abuse, humiliation, and physical aggression directed at the staff member. The report further describes an unwanted and humiliating ritual imposed by Mr. Bone and an incident of ostracism following a work trip to Madrid. Additionally, the complainant alleged repeated pressure to provide massages and incidents of indecent exposure during a visit to Madrid.

The IEP findings emphasise the seriousness of the misconduct, with bullying involving violence, shouting, swearing, mocking, belittling, and ostracism. The sexual misconduct incident in Madrid, where the complainant was trapped in a room with Mr. Bone, is described as a deliberate abuse of power through indecent exposure.

Following an investigation, the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner upheld all four bullying allegations and the sexual misconduct allegation related to the Madrid incident, though demands for massages were categorized as bullying rather than sexual misconduct. Mr. Bone appealed this decision, but it was dismissed.

In light of the report’s findings, Mr. Bone maintains that the complainant did not raise these issues during their employment and cites ICGS rules as limiting his ability to discuss inconsistencies and lack of evidence in the allegations. He asserts that these are the only allegations made against him during his tenure as an MP and beyond, and points to witness statements from 10 employees, both current and former, attesting to the professional and accommodating environment in his office.

Mr. Bone’s six-week suspension will be subject to a vote in the House of Commons, which, if approved, could lead to a recall petition. If signed by 10% of eligible and registered voters, this petition would trigger a by-election in his Wellingborough constituency, where he currently holds a majority of 18,540 votes.

It does not take much imagination to guess what Mr Bone’s new nicknames will be.

Penny Lane

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