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The resignation of Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley looks set to dominate a meeting of the local Conservatives Association tonight, as the search begins for a new candidate to stand in next year's General Election.
The Tory MP has represented the town in The Commons since 1997, but faced mounting pressure to stand down after it emerged he'd been cautioned by police for assaulting his former partner.
After weeks of mounting pressure, the decision by Suffolk MP David Ruffley to step down at the next election has been broadly welcomed in his constituency. Calls for him to vacate his Bury St Edmunds seat came after news surfaced that he's received a caution for common assault on a partner. But his detractors say next May isn't soon enough, and he should go immediately. Here's Tanya Mercer's report.
The Tory MP for Bury St Edmunds who apologised after receiving a police caution for domestic assault involving his former partner will stand down at the 2015 general election.
David Ruffley confirmed in a letter to his local Conservative Association that he will not stand for re-election next year, saying the "protracted media debate" on his private life would not serve the interests of the party in his constituency.
Mr Ruffley also said he was not willing to continue to sustain the "unrelenting orchestrated intrusion into my private life".
The MP revealed last week that he had apologised to his former partner for the March incident, which led to him accepting a caution for common assault.
Mr Ruffley said the woman had accepted his apology and stressed that he did not condone domestic violence "under any circumstances".
Writing to Andrew Speed, the chairman of the Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association, Mr Ruffley said: "Sadly, although I have apologised for a very regrettable incident last March and both my former partner and I considered the matter closed, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that a protracted media debate on my private life, whatever the motivation or however misinformed, would not serve the wider interests of the Conservative cause in East Anglia.
"Nor at a human level am I prepared to continue to sustain the unrelenting orchestrated intrusion into my personal life."
The former shadow police minister went on to say he was standing down with a "heavy heart".
Mr Ruffley was referred by the Conservative Party to chief whip Michael Gove for investigation last week after he revealed his apology to his former partner.
More than 32,000 people have now signed an online petition calling for the resignation of the Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley.
The Conservative, has represented the town in the commons since 1997, was embroiled in scandal last week after it emerged he'd been cautioned by Police for assaulting a former girlfriend.
Pressure is mounting this evening on Bury St Edmunds Conservative MP David Ruffley to resign after receiving a police caution for an assault on his then girlfriend.
Mr Ruffley, a former shadow police minister, last night issued a statement publicly appologising for his "inappropriate action" during the incident in March.
However senior Conservatives say his apology is too little too late.
A Suffolk Tory MP who apologised after receiving a police caution for a domestic assault has been referred by the party to chief whip Michael Gove, a Conservative source has confirmed.
Former shadow police minister David Ruffley revealed in a statement that he had apologised to his former partner in relation to the incident in March, which led to him accepting a caution for common assault.
He said the woman had accepted his apology and stressed that he did not condone domestic violence "under any circumstances".
It is understood that Mr Gove wants to establish exactly what happened. He has the power to strip MPs of the party whip at Westminster if wrongdoing is found.
The party had previously responded to queries about the assault by saying that the issue "was dealt with at the time by the police", and the decision to refer Mr Ruffley to the chief whip for investigation was being seen in Westminster as a significant development.
Eleanor Rehahn of the Bury St Edmunds branch of the Fawcett Society said MP David Ruffley "definitely has to go."
She said the charity, which campaigns for women's equality, said the organisation had been horrified by the incident.
The former vice chairman of the Conservative Association of Bury St Edmunds said in his opinion David Ruffley had to stand down as the town's MP.
Simon Pott has known Mr Ruffley for 17 years and said the MPs apology had been "far too little, far too late". He said his position was genuinely untenable.
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner has also voiced his concerns over the behaviour of David Ruffley.
Tim Passmore said such behaviour was "inexcusable". In a statement, he said:
The letter which sparked the calls for David Ruffley to quit as the MP for Bury St Edmunds was sent by the Dean of St Edmundsbury, Frances Ward.
In the letter the Dean says that Mr Ruffley's position is now untenable. she says:
The letter goes on to question his version of events.
The letter goes on to urge the MP to seek professional help and to "come to terms with his behaviour". The letter ends by saying it was her belief that Mr Ruffley had lost the confidence of a significant proportion of his former supporters.