Rishi Sunak heading for yet another by-election nightmare after MP suspension

GB News report on Scott Benton MP being stung by The Times

Rishi Sunak is on course for yet another nightmare by-election defeat, after a scandal-ridden MP was found guilty of breaking Commons rules. 

Scott Benton, who was elected as a Tory in 2019 for Blackpool South, was stung in an undercover Times investigation in February 2023. 

The Commons’ top sleaze buster Daniel Greenberg has this morning said Mr Benton committed a “very serious breach” of MP rules, and recommended he be dealt a whopping 35 day sanction plus loss of salary for the period he is suspended. 

If passed by MPs, Mr Benton’s constituents will be able to force a by-election, which current polls suggest Labour would easily win. 

In April the Times ran a story that Mr Benton had been caught offering to help supposed lobbyists influence gambling policy for thousands of pounds a month.

Despite rules banning MP from lobbying in return for payment, Mr Benton was seen boasting about his personal access to top ministers, as well as offering to leak confidential documents ahead of their publication.

In response to the story, Mr Benton took the unusual step of referring himself to the Commons Standards Commissioner.

In today’s scathing report, Mr Greenberg said the Blackpool MPs’ conduct “falls within the class of conduct that would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole and its members generally”.

This is a breach of paragraph 11 of the Code of Conduct.

Responded to arguments in his defence, the committee for standards agreed with the commissioner on all counts; that Mr Benton had made statements during the Times sting to the effect that:

  • He had breached Commons rules in the past
  • He would be willing to breach and/or circumvent the rules in return for payment
  • Other MPs had breached and/or circumvented the House’s rules and would be willing to do so in the future in return for payment.

The Commons Commissioner says Mr Benton’s comments implied that MPs were “for sale”, and such an impression causes “significant damage” of a “type that corrodes public trust in the integrity and decency of their elected representatives”.


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