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Sunak faces fresh by-election battle after Tory MP Peter Bone is suspended for 6 weeks

Rishi Sunak is facing another by-election battle after Tory MP Peter Bone was suspended from the House of Commons for six weeks.

MPs voted in favour of the suspension after he was found to have committed bullying and sexual misconduct against a staff member.

The suspension will automatically trigger a recall petition in Mr Bone’s constituency of Wellingborough. If 10 per cent of his constituents sign it, a by-election will be triggered.

The Tories hold a 18,540 majority in the seat, which Labour last won in Sir Tony Blair’s 1997 election landslide – meaning a by-election battle could provide another test of whether the party is on course for a similar victory.

A vote would come after Labour’s against-the-odds victories in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth – with both seats won by the party off the Tories.

And it would be the eighth by-election held this year alone, with all but one triggered by a scandal or rebellion.

Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel (IEP) concluded Mr Bone, MP for Wellingborough, “committed many varied acts of bullying and one act of sexual misconduct” against a member of his staff between 2012 and 2013.

The report into Mr Bone claims he “verbally belittled, ridiculed, abused and humiliated” his employee, and “repeatedly physically struck and threw things” at him, including pencils and rolled-up documents.

He is also alleged to have imposed an “unwanted and humiliating ritual” on the employee by forcing him to sit with his hands in his lap when the MP was unhappy with his work.

Mr Bone has denied wrongdoing and claimed the IEP investigation into him “was flawed, procedurally unfair and didn’t comply with its own rules and regulations”.

He added: “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.

“The allegations by an ex-employee refer to events of more than 10 years ago that spanned no more than a few months.”

The complainant at the centre of the case has told the BBC it was a “horrid, brutal, dark experience that left me a broken shell of the young man I once was”.

“His temper was often explosive. I described it as like a pendulum,” he said, adding that Mr Bone’s behaviour was “relentless”.

He accused the Conservative Party of having “effectively ghosted” him for three years after he first reported the allegations, with a complaint going to then-prime minister Theresa May in 2017.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle is seeking procedural advice after Tory former minister Liam Fox raised concerns of a possible contempt of Parliament caused by the BBC interview.

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