David Warburton, Member of Parliament for Somerton and Frome, is facing an inquiry by the Parliamentary Standard Commissioner.
That Conservatives suspended the whip from Warburton in April after a series of allegations surfaced regarding sexual harassment and cocaine use.
It is not the role of Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, to investigate these allegations. But her office announced Wednesday that it had launched an investigation into whether Warburton had violated the Code of Conduct for lawmakers on three counts, including paid advocacy and failure to declare a gift or other benefit.
The Times reported in April that Warburton had asked the City Watchdog Financial Conduct Authority to look more positively at a Russian financier, Roman Joukovski, who had previously given him a black loan of close to £ 150,000for a holiday home rental property.
When the charges against Warburton first surfaced, the Sunday Times published a picture, said to be from February, of him allegedly sitting next to lines of cocaine. It was then claimed that it was taken at the home of a younger woman he had met through politics.
Warburton, who is married and has two children, insisted at the time that he had “huge amounts of defense, but unfortunately the way things work means it doesn’t come out first”.
Allegations of sexual harassment against MPs can be investigated by the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) if a complaint is lodged. Warburton is believed to be the subject of an investigation by ICGS, but it does not reveal who it is looking at until it has reached a verdict.
It was the standard commissioner’s inquiry into lobbying by Owen Paterson that led the former Conservative MP to face a potential suspension from the House of Commons and eventually resign after Boris Johnson’s failed attempt to save him.
The Liberal Democrats took Paterson’s North Shropshire seat and hope to win Tiverton and Honiton on Thursday in yet another sleaze-related by-election, named after Tory MP Neil Parish was caught watching pornography in the House of Commons chamber.
Ed Davey’s party would enjoy a crack at another seat in the Southwest if Warburton’s behavior deserved a potential suspension from the Commons.
Any suspension of 10 or more sitting days may trigger a revocation of the election if 10% of the voters in the constituency sign a petition calling for one. This happened in the case of Fiona Onasanya, the Labor MP who, for example, has been convicted of distorting the justice system over a speeding ticket.