Peter Bone
Writing on social media, Mr Bone, who was appointed deputy leader of the House of Commons by Boris Johnson, said the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) investigation into him "was flawed, procedurally unfair and didn't comply with its own rules and regulations". PA Media

Parliament's behaviour watchdog has recommended that Conservative MP Peter Bone be suspended for at least six weeks for bullying and sexual misconduct.

The inquiry follows a complaint made to Parliament's independent body by a former member of staff, over alleged behaviour which took place between 2012 and 2013.

Bone, now 70, was accused of five counts of bullying, as well as breaking sexual misconduct rules.

The report published today by The Independent Expert Panel (IEP) finds the long-standing MP guilty of these accusations.

According to the report's findings, Bone "instructed, or physically forced, the complainant to put his hands in his lap when Bone was unhappy with him or his work".

It concluded the MP "verbally belittled, ridiculed, abused and humiliated" the defendant, 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 Mr Bone "repeatedly pressurised" the staffer to give him a massage in the office. However, it classed this behaviour as bullying, not sexual misconduct.

The complainant had escalated their grievances to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) in October 2021, having initially complained to the Conservative Party in 2017.

The ICGS investigation began in September 2022 after the complainant withdrew from the Conservative Party process, which had not yet concluded.

Following an investigation by an independent investigator appointed by the ICGS, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards upheld five allegations of bullying and one of sexual misconduct.

Mr Bone appealed this decision to Parliament's IEP. That appeal was dismissed by the IEP sub-panel appointed to consider that case as having raised no substantive grounds.

The IEP also found Mr Bone broke Parliament's sexual misconduct rules by indecently exposing himself to the staffer during an overseas trip.

As a result, the Panel has recommended a minimum suspension of 6 weeks, which will need to be voted on in the House of Commons before gaining approval.

If it goes through, a recall petition will be triggered, which would likely lead to a by-election in Mr Bone's Wellingborough seat.

The Recall of MPs Act 2015 states a recall process can only be triggered if an MP gets a prison sentence of 12 months or less, is suspended from the Commons for more than 10 days, or breaks the law on MPs' expenses.

Under the guidelines for this process, Mr Bone would lose his seat if 10 per cent of registered voters in his constituency signed a petition to remove him.

This is almost certain to happen, given the widespread frustrations in Bone's Wellingborough constituency — the MP has now been absent from office for over a year.

This latest misconduct scandal is bad news for the Conservatives — Bone is not the first high-profile Tory MP to trigger a by-election in recent times, due to breaking ministerial rules.

Last year, former government whip Chris Pincher was suspended for eight weeks after being found to have drunkenly groped two men at a private members' club.

Pincher has resigned as an MP and the byelection to replace him takes place on Thursday.

Dominic Raab resigned as deputy prime minister and justice secretary after an independent inquiry found he had abused his power by intimidating and undermining staff. Raab has said he will stand down as an MP at the next election.

Former Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan was sentenced last year to 18 months in prison for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008.

He was expelled from the Conservative Party after being accused of groping a boy at a house in Staffordshire some 14 years ago. He then had to quit the House of Commons earlier this month after being convicted of the sexual assault charges following a trial at Southwark Crown Court.

The Conservatives face an uphill battle at the next election, with Labour at least 10 points ahead in the polls.

Last week, Keir Starmer's party defeated the SNP to win the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election by a landslide margin, which preceded a largely successful party conference meeting in Liverpool.

The Conservative Party conference last week received a mixed reception. In his headline speech, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the long-rumoured decision to scrap the northern leg of HS2.

Rumours of this decision had dominated much of the Tory Conference, overshadowing other policy announcements from Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Home Secretary Suella Braverman.