Independent Expert Panel recommends suspending Peter Bone MP for bullying and sexual misconduct
16 October 2023
The Independent Expert Panel (IEP) has today published a report which finds that Mr Peter Bone MP “committed many varied acts of bullying and one act of sexual misconduct” against a member of his staff in 2012 and 2013. It has recommended that he is suspended from the House for six weeks. A suspension of this length triggers the Recall of MPs Act 2015.
The complainant made his complaint to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) in October 2021, having first 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 the IEP. That appeal was dismissed by the IEP sub-panel appointed to consider that case as having raised no substantive grounds.
The sub-panel then determined that Mr Bone should be suspended for six weeks. It stated that:
This is a serious case of misconduct. […] The bullying involved violence, shouting and swearing, mocking, belittling and humiliating behaviour, and ostracism. […]
This wilful pattern of bullying also included an unwanted incident of sexual misconduct, when the complainant was trapped in a room with the respondent in a hotel in Madrid, […]. This was a deliberate and conscious abuse of power using a sexual mechanism: indecent exposure.
Mr Bone appealed the sanction to a fresh IEP sub-panel. They dismissed his appeal, and confirmed the original decision.
If confirmed by the House the suspension will trigger a recall petition under the Recall of MPs Act 2015.
Who can I talk to for support?
If you have experienced an incident that is not in line with our Behaviour Code we encourage you to reach out to the people and services available to you for advice, support and help. You can find how to access support, and how to make a complaint on the ICGS website.
The ICGS and incidents off the Parliamentary estate
One of the allegations in this case centred on events that occurred during an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) trip.
Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy is clear that it “applies to acts of sexual misconduct by and against any member of the Parliamentary Community on the Parliamentary estate or elsewhere in connection with their Parliamentary activities.” (paragraph 4.1 of the policy.) It further explains (para 4.4) that:
“The work of the Parliamentary Community is broad and may involve office work, public facing work, travel and social events related to parliamentary business, as well as nonstandard working hours. As a result, this policy applies to behaviour by members of the Parliamentary Community in any circumstances relating to their Parliamentary work, regardless of location.”
The same provisions apply to the bullying and harassment policy.
How does the Recall Act apply to this case?
Because the IEP has recommended that Mr Bone is suspended for more than 14 days, Standing Orders require the Committee on Standards to make a Report to the House recommending an identical suspension in order to trigger the Recall of MPs Act 2015.
If the House then agrees the suspension, a “recall petition” will be opened in Mr Bone’s constituency. If 10% of the electorate in the constituency sign the petition within six weeks, the seat will be declared vacant, and a by-election held.
More information on how recall works is available in the House of Commons Library Briefing on Recall Elections.