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Tory minister sacked after ‘inappropriate behaviour’ claim has whip restored

A government minister sacked after allegations of “inappropriate behaviour” at the Conservative conference had no case the answer, the party says.

Conor Burns has now accused his own party of “a stitch-up” after the Tory whip was restored, alleging he was “thrown to the wolves” after criticising Liz Truss’s short-lived government.

The former trade minister revealed his anger at the way the controversy was handled in October, telling his local paper in Bournemouth: “I knew I was innocent and the truth will out and it has.”

Mr Burns was sacked after a witness claimed he touched a young man’s thigh in a hotel bar but the alleged victim made no complaint, prompting suggestions he should have been suspended only.

He alleged Ms Truss sacked him because he had criticised her record in pursuing post-Brexit trade deals, saying: “It felt and smelt like a stitch-up and that is what it was.”

Mr Burns added that it was “completely unacceptable” for anyone to be “left in limbo” for so long without being informed of the details behind the allegation against him.

In a statement, a Conservative Party spokesperson said: “The party received a complaint and investigated in line with its code of conduct.

“After undertaking appropriate enquiries and reviewing all of the evidence available to establish the facts, the party concluded that there was no basis on which to investigate further.

“The matter is now closed and Mr Burns’s membership will be reinstated at the nearest possible opportunity.”

Mr Burns was a close ally of Boris Johnson during his time in Downing Street and has been the MP for Bournemouth West since 2010.

His instant dismissal was seen as an attempt to act swiftly, in stark contrast to the way Mr Johnson allowed the Chris Pincher scandal to be dragged out, with journalists misled about the background to it.

But Mr Burns told the Bournemouth Echo: “The last two months have been a living nightmare. Not just for me, especially for my elderly parents, for my many friends and my wider family and all those who love and care for me.

“When you get to the point where your 80-year-old father is saying ‘when is this going to end?’ and you spend your time reassuring everyone else you are fine when actually you are far from fine is very difficult.”

Three days before his sacking, Mr Burns had mocked Ms Truss’s record as international trade secretary and anointed the new trade secretary, Kemi Badenoch, as her successor.

“I think this all had become more to do with nice things I had said about the trade secretary than about being up late at the conference,” Mr Burns added.