Former Tory minister cleared of ‘inappropriate behaviour with young man at hotel bar’

Conor Burns in a parliamentary portrait.

Former Tory minister Conor Burns has been cleared of misconduct after he was accused of touching a young man’s thigh in a hotel bar.

The unspecified complaint was made against Burns, a gay MP for Bournemouth West, alleging that he engaged in inappropriate behaviour during this year’s Conservative Party Conference.

He was swiftly fired as trade minister by Liz Truss on 7 October, and an investigation was launched by the Tory Party.

On Saturday (3 December), the party said that Burns had been cleared of any wrongdoing and would have the whip restored, adding: “After undertaking appropriate enquiries and reviewing all of the evidence available to establish the facts, the Party concluded that there was no basis on which to investigate further.

“The matter is now closed and Mr Burns’s membership will be reinstated at the nearest possible opportunity.”

Speaking to the Bournemouth Echo, Burns, who has consistently denied all allegations, said the past two months had been “a living nightmare, not just for me, especially for my elderly parents, for my many friends and my wider family and all those who love and care for me”.

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He continued: “When you get to the point where your 80-year-old father is saying, ‘When is this going to end?’ and you spend your time reassuring everyone else you are fine when actually you are far from fine is very difficult.

“It took a toll. The people I want to pay tribute to most of all for their loyalty, their encouragement and their faith in me are my constituents in Bournemouth West.”

He added: “I knew that I would come out the other side of this and my name would be clear because there was nothing to what had happened. I knew I was innocent and the truth will out and it has.”

Conor Burns said accusations of him touching a man’s thigh were a ‘stitch-up’

Conor Burns said the allegations against him were a “stitch-up” because he had expressed his support for Kemi Badenoch, now equalities minister and trade secretary, while Truss was briefly prime minister.

“I think this all had become more to do with nice things I had said about the trade secretary than about being up late at the conference,” he said.

Burns, who intends to run again as MP for Bournemouth West, added: “It felt and smelt like a stitch-up and that it what it was.”