Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel (IEP) found Mr Bone broke Parliament’s sexual misconduct rules by indecently exposing himself to the staffer during an overseas trip…reports Asian Lite News
Parliament’s behaviour watchdog has recommended Conservative MP Peter Bone be suspended for six weeks for bullying and sexual misconduct. It follows a complaint made to the body by a former member of staff, over alleged behaviour which took place over 10 years ago. The suspension will have to be voted on by the House of Commons to be approved. It would trigger a recall petition that could potentially lead to a by-election in Mr Bone’s Wellingborough seat. In a statement, the former staff member said he felt “a sense of relief and vindication” at the watchdog’s findings, adding that his experience “continues to affect my life to this day”. Bone has denied the allegations, calling them “without foundation”.
Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel (IEP) found Mr Bone broke Parliament’s sexual misconduct rules by indecently exposing himself to the staffer during an overseas trip. It also upheld five allegations of bullying, including “instructing, or physically forcing, the complainant to put his hands in his lap when Mr Bone was unhappy with him or his work”. It also found he “verbally belittled, ridiculed, abused and humiliated” him, and “repeatedly physically struck and threw things” at him, including hitting him with his hand or an object such as a pencil or a rolled-up document. It also upheld an allegation Bone “repeatedly pressurised” the staffer to give him a massage in the office. It found this was bullying, but not sexual misconduct. Bone denied the accusations throughout and appealed against its findings, arguing the investigation had been flawed. However, his appeal was dismissed by a sub-panel, which said the investigation had been carried out correctly.
According to the report, the complainant had kept a detailed log of Mr Bone’s behaviour at the time, and had submitted “compelling, nuanced and plausible” evidence. It also found his account of events was backed up by witnesses at work, and family members with whom he had spoken about his experiences. In a statement released on Monday after the watchdog released its final report, Mr Bone said the allegations were “false and untrue”. He added that the probe by the IEP – the body set up in June 2020 to examine bullying and sexual misconduct complaints against MPs – was “flawed” and “procedurally unfair”. The investigation was triggered following a complaint made in October 2021 with a prior complaint to the Conservative Party – made in 2017 – unresolved. According to its report, the IEP found that at this stage, the Tory party investigation had “apparently not progressed very far”.
The panel formally began a full investigation in August 2022, with the staffer withdrawing the complaint to the party to stop the two inquiries running in parallel. The Conservative Party said it had opened an investigation into the complaint, but “the complainant withdrew from the process before the case was heard”. In his statement, the complainant called on the Conservatives and other parties to review their complaints procedures “with full independent oversight”. “It should not take five years for a complaint to be processed,” he added.