Five Tory MPs breached code of conduct over sex offender MP Charlie Elphicke

Five Tory MPs breached the code of conduct over an "egregious" attempt to influence a former colleague's legal proceedings, the Commons Standards Committee has found.

Theresa Villiers, Natalie Elphicke, Sir Roger Gale, Adam Holloway and Bob Stewart were found to have fallen foul of the rules by seeking to interfere in a legal decision regarding ex-MP Charlie Elphicke.

The committee said former environment secretary Ms Villiers, senior Conservative Sir Roger, and Ms Elphicke should all be suspended from the House for one day, while all five were told to apologise.

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"The letters signed and sent by the members in this case were an attempt improperly to influence judicial proceedings," the committee said.

Ex-Tory MP Charlie Elphicke was found guilty on three counts of sexual assault

"Such egregious behaviour is corrosive to the rule of law and, if allowed to continue unchecked, could undermine public trust in the independence of judges."

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All five wrote to senior members of the judiciary raising concerns that a more junior judge was considering publishing character references provided for Mr Elphicke, who was convicted of sex offences.

"The letters signed and sent by the members in this case were an attempt improperly to influence judicial proceedings," the committee said.

"Such egregious behaviour is corrosive to the rule of law and, if allowed to continue unchecked, could undermine public trust in the independence of judges."

The MPs behaviour was found to have "caused significant damage to the reputation and integrity" of the House of Commons.

Of the three recommended for suspension, two had "substantial legal experience" while the third, Sir Roger, is both the longest standing of the group and "still does not accept his mistake".

They were all told to apologise to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, as well as to the House.

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