Tory Conor Burns sacked from government and loses whip over ‘serious misconduct’ claims

Liz Truss, Conor Burns
Liz Truss sacks trade minister Conor Burns after 'serious misconduct' allegations

Tory minister Conor Burns had the party whip suspended pending an investigation into allegations of “inappropriate behaviour”, according to the Whips’ Office.

It is understood a third party made a complaint to Tory whips about Conor Burns’ behaviour towards a man at the party conference in Birmingham earlier this week.

Further details were unclear but a source said the alleged incident was said to have happened in the hotel bar.

 A Whips’ Office spokesman said: “We have suspended the whip pending investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour earlier this week.

“We take all such allegations extremely seriously. The Prime Minister has been clear that the highest standards in public life must be upheld.”

A Number 10 spokesman said: “Following a complaint of serious misconduct, the Prime Minister has asked Conor Burns MP to leave the government with immediate effect.

“The Prime Minister took direct action on being informed of this allegation and is clear that all ministers should maintain the high standards of behaviour – as the public rightly expects.”

Mr Burns said he had not been told the nature of the allegations and accused his party of a “rush to judgement”.

Mr Burns said: “Earlier I received a call from the Chief Whip Wendy Morton. Ms Morton informed me a complaint had been received about me and she had passed it to Conservative Campaign Headquarters to investigate.

“I was not given any information about the complaint nor was I asked to provide any information.

“On the basis of this complaint Ms Morton told me that the Whip was being withdrawn and that I was standing down as Trade Minister.”

The MP for Bournemouth West added: “I will fully cooperate with the party’s enquiry and look forward to clearing my name.

“I hope the party will be as quick to conduct their enquiry as they were to rush to judgement.”

Burns suspended as a patron of the LGBTQ+ Conservatives.

Additionally, ITV UK editor Paul Brand tweeted that Burns was suspended as a patron of the LGBTQ+ Conservatives, with a spokesperson saying that the suspension will remain active “pending the conclusion of investigations.”

In a Twitter thread, Burns clarified that he was “not given any information about the complaint” and wasn’t asked to provide any clarification on his misconduct.

The 50-year-old MP for Bournemouth West since 2010 was a fiercely loyal minister under Boris Johnson.

He resigned from government in May 2020 after an unrelated standards probe found he “used his parliamentary position in an attempt to intimidate a member of the public”, in a dispute involving his family.

He said at the time: “I profoundly regret involving myself in this in any way and if I could turn the clock back I would not have done it.”

Mr Burns returned as a minister 16 months later.

While back in government, he infamously claimed Mr Johnson was “ambushed with a cake” during lockdown parties in Downing Street.

In August last year, Mr Burns was appointed Trade envoy to Canada by Mr Johnson before becoming Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office in September 2021.

Last month he was given a job by Liz Truss, who moved him sideways from the Northern Ireland Office to the Department for International Trade in her first reshuffle.

Separately, an unnamed Tory MP remains on bail accused of rape as the Metropolitan Police carries out an investigation.

Police have extended the bail of a Tory MP arrested on suspicion of rape, sexual assault and misconduct in a public office.

It’s the second bail extension for the Conservative MP, a man in his 50s who hasn’t been named by police.

Following his arrest on May 17 was initially bailed until mid-June, which was then extended to mid-August.

And the Metropolitan Police announced yesterday(FRI) he would now be bailed until mid-November.

Officers from the Central Specialist Crime team are continuing to investigate the case.

The investigation was launched in January 2020 after it was claimed the MP had committed sex crimes in London between 2002 and 2009.

He’s accused of rape, sexual assault, indecent assault, abuse of a position of trust and misconduct in a public office.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “A man, aged in his 50s, was arrested on suspicion of indecent assault, sexual assault, rape, abuse of position of trust and misconduct in public office.

“He was taken into custody and has since been bailed pending further enquiries to a date in mid-November.

“Enquiries remain ongoing.”

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