Tory MP condemns ‘thugs’ who vandalised his office after Paterson vote

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MP for Wellingborough Peter Bone saw his office vandalised (PA) (PA Archive)
MP for Wellingborough Peter Bone saw his office vandalised (PA) (PA Archive)

A long-serving Conservative politician has condemned the “thugs” who vandalised his office after he voted to overhaul the disciplinary process for MPs.

Peter Bone said the words “Tory sleaze” were daubed on his constituency office after Wednesday’s vote in an act of “violence and intimidation” that has troubled his staff.

The MP told the PA news agency: “My office in Wellingborough had ‘Tory sleaze’ plastered all over it in paint. Obviously, that’s very worrying for the staff.”

He said this is “just another example of people thinking it is OK to attack either the individual or the property over a decision in Parliament”, even though “I’m elected to use my judgment to decide on issues”.

The paint had been cleaned by Thursday lunchtime.

The exterior of Conservative MP Peter Bone’s constituency office in Wellingborough (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)
The exterior of Conservative MP Peter Bone’s constituency office in Wellingborough (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)

On Wednesday, Tories were ordered not to back the cross-party Standards Committee’s call for Conservative MP Owen Paterson to be suspended from Parliament for 30 sitting days after it found he repeatedly lobbied ministers and officials for two companies paying him more than £100,000 per year.

Dozens of Tories abstained and 13 rebelled after being told to vote instead for an amendment, introduced by Dame Andrea Leadsom, to establish a new Conservative-led committee to reconsider both Mr Paterson’s case and whether a new standards system is needed.

Mr Bone said: “It seemed to me that the amendment was the better way forward so I voted for it.

“So then somebody who disagrees with that decides that they can just go attack my office and terrify my staff.

“When we get to the situation where property can be vandalised and people can be threatened, then there is something gone very wrong with our democracy.

“Of course, these thugs who attacked my property – and we don’t know who they are – they don’t put an alternative case and argue for that to be put forward or even stand against me for the seat of Wellingborough. They just use violence and intimidation.

“Well, I can tell them flat that violence and intimidation is not going to change the way I vote on issues. It is just totally unacceptable.”

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Bone had urged MPs to remember what happened to Sir David Amess, who was stabbed to death while meeting constituents, as he claimed the vandalism had put his staff in danger.

He told the Commons: “We could have strong disagreements but some of us should remember what happened to Sir David Amess and perhaps our language needs to be a little temperate.”

Former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson in the House of Commons (House of Commons/PA) (PA Wire)
Former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson in the House of Commons (House of Commons/PA) (PA Wire)

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg who said he would seek “cross-party” changes to the standards system due to widespread outrage, said vandalising an MP’s office because of the way they had voted seems to be a “breach of privilege”.

Following comments from Mr Bone, Standards Committee chairman and Labour MP Chris Bryant said: “I think the message for all of us is that we need to be very careful when we’re talking about standards issues, as I’ve tried to be.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman later said “obviously any sort of vandalism or activity like that would never be acceptable”.

Mr Bone also told PA that Angela Richardson, who was sacked as a parliamentary private secretary (PPS) following her decision to abstain on the amendment to overhaul the Commons’ disciplinary process, had “voted her conscience which is absolutely the right thing to do”.

Ms Richardson confirmed on Thursday she had been reappointed as PPS to Communities Secretary Michael Gove.

Mr Bone said: “It is just my personal view, this was House business and this was not Government business.”

“Therefore, there should not have been any whipping but of course (for) Members of Parliament all votes in the House of Commons are free votes.

“Nobody is going to tell me how I am going to vote, and her view is the way she thought fit so she voted correctly – and great credit to her for doing that.”

A Northamptonshire Police spokeswoman said: “We are aware of an incident of criminal damage reported to have happened some time between the evening of November 3, and the morning of November 4, in High Street, Wellingborough.”

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