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By Ben Guerin
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New By-Election Looms As Ex-Tory MP Loses Appeal Over Suspension

Scott Benton has lost his appeal against suspension from the Commons (Alamy)

2 min read

Former Conservative MP Scott Benton has lost his appeal against a 35-day suspension from the House of Commons, meaning the Tories face the prospect of another damaging by-election.

Benton lost the Tory whip last April after telling an undercover reporter that he would consider breaking lobbying rules in exchange for payment. The standards committee ruled that he had carried out a "very serious breach" of the rules and recommended his suspension.

The MP denied breaching the rules and attempted to appeal the decision, but the Independent Expert Panel (IEP), has now rejected his appeal. 

"We are satisfied that there is no substance in the Appellant’s grounds," the committee's report stated.

"Essentially, the Appellant simply disagrees with the sanction determined. The first stage of the appeal process has not been met. The sanction imposed was neither unreasonable nor disproportionate."

The Commons will now have to formally approve the suspension, which will then trigger a recall petition as the suspension is longer than ten days. If 10 per cent of Benton's constituency vote for a by-election, one will take place, causing a further headache for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak having lost two by-elections to Labour only last week.

Benton, the MP for Blackpool South, is only holding a majority of 3,690 in his constituency. 

Labour's Shadow Paymaster General Jonathan Ashworth said: “Scott Benton should do the decent thing and resign, saving the people of Blackpool South a lengthy recall petition that would leave them without the representation they deserve.

"This is yet another by-election caused by Tory scandal. Britain deserves better than this carousel of Conservative Chaos.

“Labour's Chris Webb is Blackpool born and bred, and ready to deliver a fresh start for Blackpool South."

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