Ex-Tory MP David Warburton resigns after suspension over harassment and drugs claims

David Warburton was suspended from the party over harassment and drugs allegations  (PA Media)
David Warburton was suspended from the party over harassment and drugs allegations (PA Media)

Ex-Tory MP David Warburton has resigned following his suspension from the party over harassment and drug abuse claims, creating a further by-election headache for Rishi Sunak.

The MP for Somerton and Frome had the Tory whip removed in April 2022 after formal complaints were made by two women to the parliamentary harassment watchdog.

Both women accused Mr Warburton of unwanted sexual comments and advances – allegations he denied.

David Warburton has denied allegation of misconduct (PA Media)
David Warburton has denied allegation of misconduct (PA Media)

The 57-year-old told The Mail On Sunday he will resign his seat this weekend because he had been denied a fair hearing by the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS), which is investigating the claims.

His resignation means Mr Sunak now faces four by-elections, following the resignations of Boris Johnson, Nadine Dorries and Nigel Adams.

Mr Warburton admitted to the Mail on Sunday that he had taken cocaine after drinking whisky with a third woman who secretly photographed and recorded him. He said visited her flat after a vote in the House of Commons which finished at a late hour.

“I was set up, but I have been naive and incredibly stupid,” he told the newspaper, adding that the Japanese whisky had been “incredibly potent”.

Despite Mr Warburton’s 19,000 majority and other comfortable margins, the party is set to face a tough battle to hold onto its four vacant seats after the Partygate scandal. This re-erupted on Saturday night after a video was published reportedly taken from inside a Tory knees-up during the Covid lockdown. The gathering organised by former mayor of London hopeful Shaun Bailey shows party staffers joking about “bending” the strict rules which were in place during the incident on 14 December 2020.

Mr Warburton lives near Somerton, in Somerset, with his wife and their two children.

The Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, which is investigating the allegations against him, was set up in 2019 following the #MeToo movement in Westminster.

Anyone working in parliament can contact the helpline about incidents of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct.

Mr Warburton told the Mail on Sunday that the MeToo movement had “terrified” parliamentary authorities and that he “didn’t stand a chance” in coming out of a hearing with a positive outcome.

According to the newspaper, his resignation letter described the allegations as “malicious” and that the 14-month probe “has inflicted unimaginable and intolerable destruction on my family and on me”.

A Conservative party spokesperson said: “The independent complaints and grievance scheme is an independent body set up by parliament and the Conservative party respects its processes.

“Mr Warburton had the whip withdrawn over these complaints last April and has not sat in parliament as a Conservative since.”