Suffolk: Tory heavyweights Tim Passmore and Jenny Antill turn up the heat on Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley
PUBLISHED: 15:31 01 July 2014 | UPDATED: 15:31 01 July 2014
Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley has come under fire from two more senior Tories following his caution for assault.
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore has issued a statement describing Mr Ruffley’s behaviour as ‘inexcusable’.
And Suffolk County Council cabinet member Jenny Antill, who is chair of Suffolk Domestic Abuse Partnership, said such behaviour can never be condoned.
Mr Passmore said it was up to the Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association to decide on his future, but he had made his view clear – “such behaviour is inexcusable”.
He said: “Those of us in a leadership role in society must do our level best at all times and try to set a good example to others in what we do and how we behave – that includes all politicians regardless of any party affiliation.
“In my opinion there cannot and must not be any hiding place for the perpetrators of such crimes.”
Meanwhile, Mrs Antill said: “I cannot condone any incident of domestic abuse, regardless of the identity of the perpetrator or his or her position in society or political persuasion.”
As far as Mr Ruffley was concerned she said she had no power to influence directly any action that may be taken by his Constituency Association. However she had made the views of both herself and the partnership known to the constituency chairman, and Conservative Central Office.
Mr Ruffley was given a caution by the Metropolitan Police for common assault at an address in Pimlico on March 15 following an incident allegedly involving his then partner Wendy Drew.
Senior members of his constituency party were unaware of the incident until it was revealed by a national newspaper last month. There was disquiet about the incident among senior constituency officials, but a statement issued last week by Conservative Central Office on behalf of the association gave him their full support.
It said: “We are satisfied that the matter was thoroughly and appropriately dealt with at the time and that no further action was deemed necessary. David Ruffley has been an excellent constituency Member of Parliament for 17 years and we will continue to work with him and support him in that role.”
The statement of support came after two women’s groups – Lighthouse Women’s Aid and the Fawcett Society – called on Mr Ruffley to stand down.
However, he has maintained a public silence on the incident – and was not available to comment on Mr Passmore’s statement.