Minister pictured campaigning with suspended former Tory MP Peter Bone

A minister has been photographed campaigning with a former Conservative MP who was suspended from the Commons after a probe found he had engaged in bullying and sexual misconduct.

Tom Pursglove, a minister in the Department for Work and Pensions, was photographed by The Sunday Mirror canvassing with Peter Bone MP.

The Commons on Wednesday approved a six-week suspension for Mr Bone after Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel (IEP) upheld counts of bullying and sexual misconduct against him relating to a staff member.

The panel found that he had indecently exposed himself to the complainant in the bathroom of a hotel room during a work trip to Madrid. Mr Bone has denied the allegations.

A recall petition, due to open next month, will trigger a by-election if signed by 10% of voters in his Wellingborough constituency.

Despite Mr Bone having been stripped of the Tory whip a day after the report was published on October 16, he has continued to campaign for the Tories in Northamptonshire.

The Sunday Mirror reported that Corby MP Mr Pursglove was out door-knocking with Mr Bone only two days after his suspension was ratified by MPs.

Approached by the newspaper for comment, the Tory minister refused to say whether it was appropriate for him to be canvassing with a suspended MP.

Mr Pursglove on Saturday shared a tweet from Helen Harrison, a Conservative councillor on North Northamptonshire Council, showing a group of campaigners, including some from his Corby constituency, out campaigning ahead of a local council by-election.

The picture shows Mr Bone among the activists, holding leaflets with the Tory candidate’s profile on.

Mr Bone reportedly told the Mirror: “I’d love to talk to you but we’re out canvassing. Have a nice day.”

Tom Pursglove
Conservative minister Tom Pursglove (Richard Townshend/UK Parliament)

The former deputy leader of the Commons is said to have driven away from the canvassing session in the same car as Mr Pursglove.

The Conservative Party said it would not be commenting.

Mr Pursglove has also been approached for comment by the PA news agency.

The IEP found Mr Bone had “verbally belittled, ridiculed, abused and humiliated” an employee and “repeatedly physically struck and threw things” at him.

As well as being found to have indecently exposed himself, the MP also imposed an “unwanted and humiliating ritual” on the man by forcing him to sit with his hands in his lap when the politician was unhappy with his work, the investigation found.

Mr Bone has said the allegations against him are “false and untrue” and “without foundation”.

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”.

Labour has urged Mr Bone to stand down immediately and spare his constituencies the recall process.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has conceded that a by-election in the seat, that Mr Bone won with a 18,500 majority in 2019, would be “difficult” for the Tories.

The five-figure majority is smaller than those the Tories had held in both Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire in 2019, seats that were lost in recent by-elections to Labour.