Rishi Sunak backs minister Tom Pursglove seen canvassing with suspended Wellingborough MP Peter Bone

Credit: UK Parliament/PA

Tom Pursglove (left) was pictured campaigning with the suspended MP Peter Bone (right)
Tom Pursglove (left) was pictured campaigning with the suspended MP Peter Bone (right). Credit: UK Parliament/PA

Rishi Sunak remains confident in a minister under fire for campaigning with a former Tory MP who was suspended for engaging in bullying and sexual misconduct, Downing Street said.

The Labour Party said Corby MP and work and pensions minister Tom Pursglove was "totally inappropriate" to canvas with Peter Bone, after the pair were pictured together by the Sunday Mirror.

Mr Bone, the MP for Wellingborough, was suspended from the Commons for six weeks last Wednesday after Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel (IEP) upheld counts of bullying and sexual misconduct against him relating to a staff member.

Mr Bone was also kicked out of the Conservative party and could face a by-election, but denied the allegations.

Despite Mr Pursglove being pictured with the MP embroiled in controversy, the prime minister’s official spokesman responded affirmatively when asked if Mr Sunak still had confidence in the minister.

He told reporters: “I mean, as a minister, yes. Obviously, those are political issues in terms of campaigning stuff, so probably one for my political colleagues.”

Pressed on the issue again, the spokesman said: “I’d have to point you to political colleagues about decisions around campaigning.”

The IEP found that Mr Bone had indecently exposed himself to the complainant during a work trip.

Peter Bone has been the MP for Wellingborough since 2005. Credit: PA

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

Despite Mr Bone having been stripped of the Tory whip a day after the report was published on 16 October, he 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 the veteran MP's suspension was approved in the Commons.

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds wrote to the prime minister saying it was “totally inappropriate for a serving MP and minister to promote Peter Bone in this way”.

The Conservative Party has been approached for comment.

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