LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces another challenging vote to fill a vacant seat in parliament after a lawmaker was removed on Tuesday over claims he bullied an employee and committed sexual misconduct.
A parliamentary watchdog found that Peter Bone, who had been a member of parliament for almost two decades, had harassed and bullied a staff member and exposed his genitals.
A petition that closed on Tuesday to remove him had the backing of 13.2% of Bone’s constituency, more than the 10% required, meaning a by-election must now be held.
Sunak’s governing Conservative Party will face its seventh by-election since the beginning of July. The Conservatives have lost five of those and only held one.
Bone, who was suspended from parliament for six weeks and currently sits as an independent, could run as a candidate in that by-election, but not for the Conservatives. He had a majority of more than 18,500 at the last national vote in 2019.
The Independent Expert Panel found that Bone committed “many varied acts” of bullying and one act of sexual misconduct against a staff member in 2012 and 2013.
Bone verbally humiliated the former employee and threw pens and office equipment at him, both of which amounted to bullying, the panel found.
The parliamentary commissioner found that Bone committed sexual misconduct by indecently exposing “his genitals close to the complainant’s face” on an overseas work trip, first in the bathroom and then in the bedroom of a hotel room.
In response to the result of the petition, Bone acknowledged that there will be a by-election early next year and said the allegations were “untrue and without foundation.”
“I will have more to say on these matters in the new year,” Bone said in statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter
(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill and Farouq Suleiman; Editing by Mark Porter)