LONDON — An MP who was suspended from the Conservative Party over allegations of sexual misconduct has resigned.
David Warburton, who represents Somerton and Frome in Somerset, is the fourth MP in eight days to announce his resignation.
Warburton said the past 14 months since the allegations were published in a national newspaper had been “extraordinarily difficult”.
He added that the allegations about him had been “malicious”.
The MP had been accused of taking drugs and making unwanted advances towards two women, after they and another woman spoke to the Sunday Times about his conduct.
That led to his suspension from the Conservative Party in April last year.
He announced his resignation in an interview with the Mail On Sunday in which the paper reports him as admitting to taking cocaine after drinking “incredibly potent” Japanese whiskey.
He added in the interview: “I was set up, but I have been naive and incredibly stupid.” He went on to deny the harassment claims he is accused of.
His immediate departure means the Conservatives will now face a fourth by-election.
Warburton has represented his constituency as an independent since losing the Tory whip. A writ for a new election is usually issued with three months of the resignation, according to Parliament’s website.
Warburton had taken the constituency from the Liberal Democrats in 2015, was re-elected in 2017 and 2019. He won with a majority of 19,213 in that last poll.
“My constituents in Somerton and Frome who elected me three times with overwhelming majorities have for a year been deprived of the voice they need,” said Warburton.
“I am so grateful for their many messages of support, and it is with sorrow that I have no choice but to provoke the upheaval of a by-election.”
He also said in his three-page resignation letter that he had been denied a fair hearing by the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) and prevented from “speaking out” while it investigated the allegations.
He joins Boris Johnson and Nigel Adams who resigned last week triggering by-elections in their constituencies.
Nadine Dorries also announced her resignation, but said her departure would not be immediate as she wanted to stay while she seeks to investigate how she was denied a seat in the Lords on Boris Johnson’s resignation honors list.
Labour’s national campaign coordinator Shabana Mahmood accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of being “too weak to act himself” after Warburton resigned “in disgrace”.
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Time after time the Conservatives have mired themselves in sleaze and scandal neglecting the issues that really matter to people. Then they decided it was OK to leave local people in this seat without any proper representation at all.” BBC