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Tory MPs who have been suspended or quit over claims of bad behaviour

by danielbarker on 19 April, 2024

JAMES CHENG-MORRIS

Peter Bone, Mark Menzies and William Wragg are among the MPs to have lost the Tory whip. (PA)
Peter Bone, Mark Menzies and William Wragg are among the MPs to have lost the Tory whip. (PA)

An MP has lost the Conservative whip while the party investigates claims he made a late-night call to an elderly aide to ask for money to pay off “bad people” and misused campaign funds.

Mark Menzies, who strongly disputes the claims, is alleged to have used thousands of pounds given by donors to fund medical expenses, and to have called a 78-year-old aide at 3.14am asking for £5,000 because he had been locked up by “bad people” demanding money for his release.

The sum later rose to £65,000 and was paid by his office manager from her personal account, and later reimbursed from campaign funds. The MP for Fylde in Lancashire disputes the allegations reported by The Times.

A spokeswoman for chief whip Simon Hart on Thursday night said that Menzies had “agreed to relinquish the Conservative whip, pending the outcome of an investigation”, meaning he will now sit as an independent MP.

Here, Yahoo News UK lists Conservative MPs who have lost the party whip after admitting, or having been found guilty of, wrongdoing since the 2019 general election.

William Wragg (April 2024)

William Wragg. (PA)
William Wragg. (PA) (UK Parliament/PA Wire)

William Wragg resigned the Conservative whip after he admitted giving politicians’ phone numbers to a suspected scammer. He gave the numbers to the unknown person after fearing intimate images of himself would be leaked after he was targeted in a parliamentary sexting scam.

Wragg had previously announced he would stand down as an MP for Hazel Grove at the next election, and is currently serving as an independent. Police investigations into the reports are ongoing.

Peter Bone (October 2023)

Peter Bone. (PA)
Peter Bone. (PA) (Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire)

Former minister Peter Bone had the Tory whip removed after being found to have committed bullying and sexual misconduct against a staff member.

More than 10% of voters in his Wellingborough constituency then voted to recall him, paving the way for a by-election in February 2024, which the Tories lost.

Scott Benton (April 2023)

Scott Benton. (PA)
Scott Benton. (PA) (Beresford Hodge/PA Wire)

Blackpool North MP Scott Benton was stripped of the party whip after an undercover investigation for The Times found he was prepared to leak market sensitive information to a bogus investment fund and ask parliamentary questions on its behalf, in breach of parliamentary rules.

He was suspended from the House of Commons in February and then resigned as an MP last month. A by-election for Blackpool North will be held on 2 May, at the same time as local elections.

Chris Pincher (July 2022)

Chris Pincher. (PA)
Chris Pincher. (PA) (PA)

The Conservative whip was suspended from Tamworth MP Chris Pincher after an investigation was launched into allegations he drunkenly groped two men at a private members’ club.

Then-PM Boris Johnson’s handling of the scandal, including his delay in removing the whip, prompted a series of resignations which ultimately led to his downfall as prime minister. Pincher, meanwhile, was later suspended from the House of Commons and resigned as MP in September 2023 after losing an appeal.

Neil Parish (April 2022)

Neil Parish. (PA)
Neil Parish. (PA) (PA)

Tiverton and Honiton MP Neil Parish was suspended by the Conservatives while under investigation for allegedly watching pornography on his phone in the Commons chamber.

He admitted this the following day, saying he accidentally viewed an X-rated video when browsing for tractors, before later doing so deliberately in the chamber. He quit as an MP a few days later.

Imran Ahmad Khan (June 2021)

Imran Ahmad Khan speaking in the House of Commons. (PA)
Imran Ahmad Khan speaking in the House of Commons. (PA) (PA)

The Conservatives suspended the whip from Imran Ahmad Khan after it was revealed the Wakefield MP was facing trial accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008. He stood down as an MP just weeks before being jailed in May 2022 for 18 months after being found guilty of sexual assault.

Rob Roberts (May 2021)

Rob Roberts. (PA)
Rob Roberts. (PA) (PA)

Rob Roberts was suspended by the Conservatives after parliamentary authorities found he had made repeated and unwanted advances towards a member of staff. Roberts apologised for his actions and was suspended from the Commons for six weeks in May 2021, with several MPs urging him to resign. He remains an independent MP for Delyn in North Wales.

Other Tory MPs who lost the whip

In February, Lee Anderson lost the Tory whip after refusing to apologise for claiming “Islamists” had “got control” of Sadiq Khan and London. The former deputy chair of the party later defected to Nigel Farage-linked Reform UK, declaring: “I want my country back.”

In October last year, Crispin Blunt was suspended by the Tories after being arrested on suspicion of rape and the possession of controlled substances. In January, Blunt, who is standing down at the next election, was re-bailed to 23 April. He has said he is “confident” he will not be charged.

Andrew Bridgen was stripped of the Tory whip in January last year after appearing to compare COVID vaccines with the Holocaust. He had tweeted an article questioning the safety of the vaccines with the words: “As one consultant cardiologist said to me, this is the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust.” He remains an independent MP.

KIRKBY IN ASHFIELD, ENGLAND - MARCH 15: Reform Party MP Lee Anderson sits on the top of an open-top bus during a party campaign visit on March 15, 2024 in Sutton in Ashfield, England. Reform UK Party Leader Richard Tice joined former Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson MP for his first full day in his constituency since Anderson announced his defection to Reform UK on Monday. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Lee Anderson defected to Reform UK after losing the Tory whip. (Getty Images) (Leon Neal via Getty Images)

Former health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancocklost the Tory whip in November 2022 after signing up to join ITV reality show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!. An “ally” said appearing on the programme was a “powerful tool to get our message heard by younger generations”. Hancock continued as an independent but is standing down at the next election.

David Warburton had the Conservative whip withdrawn in April 2022 after allegations of sexual harassment and cocaine use emerged in The Sunday Times. He resigned as an independent MP in June last year while a Commons investigations was ongoing, but the investigation was later dropped.

Solihull MP Julian Knight had the whip withdrawn in December 2022 over an allegation of serious sexual assault, which he strongly denied. He has stood as an independent since 2023 and last year announced he would stand down at the next election saying his name had been “tarnished”. In February 2024, Essex Police – who had taken over the investigation from the Met Police – confirmed they were taking no further action. Knight continues to sit as an independent.

Current MPs who have lost the whip from other parties

Seven former Labour MPs, along with one each from the SNP, DUP and Plaid Cymru, now sit as independents after losing the party whip.

They include former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who had the whip removed – and was suspended by the party – in 2020 after responding to a highly critical report on antisemitism within the party by saying the scale of the problem had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.

He subsequently had his party membership reinstated and attempted to clarify his comments by saying concerns about antisemitism are “neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’”. However, current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has refused to readmit him to the ranks.

Corbyn ally Diane Abbott also lost the Labour whip in April last year after writing a letter to The Observer in which she suggested Jewish, Irish and Traveller people are not subject to racism “all their lives”.

She later apologised, suggesting “errors arose” in her initial draft letter to the newspaper, but remains subject to an internal investigation by the Labour Party and has not had the whip returned to her.

Labour also suspended the whip from Kate Osamor over comments she made in January in which she appeared to say in a post about Holocaust Memorial Day that the war in Gaza should be remembered as a genocide. Osamor apologised for “any offence caused” by her remarks but remains suspended.

Meanwhile, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson resigned as leader of the DUP last month after he was charged with historical sex offences. He is due to appear in court in Newry, Co Down, on 24 April and has been suspended from the DUP pending the outcome of the judicial process.

Published and promoted by Dan Barker on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, 1 Vincent Square, London, SW1P 2PN.

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