Top Tory: Nothing Wrong With an MP Who Assaults His Girlfriend

Seven million listeners will have heard Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 phone-in on David Ruffley this lunchtime, many in Bury St Edmunds. The discussion was most notable for the bizarre comments made by Bernard Sergeant, an important local Conservative figure. Asked if Ruffley should resign, Sergeant laughed and replied: “We do have these odd female organisations that look for equality and I think they’ve got it these days.” Pressed further by Vine on whether “you can have as a candidate a man who beats up his girlfriend”, Sergeant replies: “Well why not?”

Guido wondered if that is the official line, before he remembered there isn’t one…

It’s Official: Guido is a Feminist

Guido was tickled this morning by the words of Andrew Speed, the chairman of Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association, who has dismissed critics of David Ruffley as “minority feminist groups”. Guido has always believed that this is a minority feminist blog…

That said, you have to wonder what Refuge, the country’s leading domestic violence charity, think about being labelled “minority feminists”. Not to mention the growing number of Westminster staffers up in arms. Let alone the members of Ruffley’s own local party who are increasingly losing patience with their MP…

Refuge: Ruffley Must Resign

Leading domestic violence charity Refuge has called for David Ruffley to resign over his assault on his ex-girlfriend. Refuge’s chief executive Sandra Horley says she is “concerned that David Ruffley has so far been allowed to retain his position”, and demands the government “demonstrate to the public that men who abuse women will face consequences”.

“Earlier this year David Ruffley MP accepted a police caution for assaulting his former partner.  He has now expressed his ‘deep regrets’ about the incident and has explained that he has apologised to her.

Let me be clear – assaulting your partner is domestic violence, and it is a crime.  David Ruffley’s violent behaviour is all the more disappointing given that he has previously spoken out publicly against domestic violence.  Writing on his own website, he has asserted that, “One incident of domestic violence is one too many”.  Marking the White Ribbon Day campaign in 2005, he also wrote: “By wearing a white ribbon we are able to pledge never to commit, tolerate or ignore violence against women.”

Violent men must take responsibility for their actions. Apologies are all well and good, but at Refuge we know that perpetrators frequently use violence after apologising to their partners and making promises to change their behaviour.

I am concerned that David Ruffley has so far been allowed to retain his position.  This Government has stated that addressing violence against women and girls is one of its top priorities.  I sincerely hope it shows leadership on this issue by demonstrating to the public that men who abuse women will face consequences for their actions.”

Another loud, public call for Ruffley to go. The growing list of names demanding he step down will not have gone unnoticed by his association…

Bury St Edmunds Tory Association Drops Support for Ruffley

Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association is now refusing to publicly back David Ruffley as he faces investigation by Michael Gove. On Wednesday the chair of Ruffley’s local party said of his apology: “I support David’s statement”. But Guido understands that the mood among its executive hardened yesterday in the wake of growing publicity, with several members now believing his position is untenable. Tory sources describe the day’s developments as “significant”. This is reflected in the statement given by the local party to BBC Look East last night, dropping their “support”:

“We note David’s acceptance of his responsibilities, the issuance and acceptance of an apology and his expressions of deep regret.” 

Ruffley has now led the bulletin on BBC Look East for three days running, with yet more constituents telling last night’s edition he must resign. The story is on national television and radio, and appears in every national newspaper this morning. Today’s Telegraph reports he could be suspended from the House of Commons. More concerning for Ruffley’s local party is the fact the publicity around the story is growing by the day…

Rebekah’s Security Guards Cleared at Old Bailey

Four men who worked as part of the security detail for Rebekah and Charlie Brooks have had the cases against them dropped. Lee Sandell, David Johnson, Paul Edwards and Daryl Jorsling were accused of helping to hide or destroy evidence around the time that Charlie’s infamous dirty DVDs went missing. Now the CPS says they will not face a trial.

evansMeanwhile Dan Evans, who admitted to hacking more than 1,000 voicemail messages, has walked free.

The judge explained his 10 month suspended sentence by noting his “unique” role in testifying against Andy Coulson…

Ruffley Speaks: “I Would Never Condone Domestic Violence”

David Ruffley has bowed to mounting pressure and released a statement on his caution for assaulting a woman, as the story goes mainstream on the Today programme and BBC Breakfast this morning. He says “I would never condone domestic violence under any circumstances,” presumably with the exception of when he is the perpetrator. Here is his statement in full:

“In March this year, an incident occurred between me and my former partner, resulting in inappropriate action on my part, which I deeply regret, in respect of which I accepted a police caution for common assault.

Some time later, I telephoned my former partner to apologise.

I am pleased to be able to say that she has accepted my apology. I have refrained from making any public statement on this matter as it is a deeply personal matter.

It is my understanding that my former partner wishes the incident to remain private.

I wish to stress that I would never condone domestic violence under any circumstances.”

Wonder what the woman he assaulted thinks about that.

Meanwhile, the Beeb’s Chris Mason reports that Tories at local and central level are now privately discussing his future, ahead of next week’s crisis summit. In Suffolk, Ruffley is topping the news agenda and is the only subject on this morning’s local radio phone-ins. The calls for him to go are getting louder…

See also: Gove Dragged Into Ruffley Assault Rap – Dean Tells Chief Whip Violent MP Must Resign

Gove Dragged Into Ruffley Assault Rap
Dean Tells Chief Whip Violent MP Must Resign

Michael Gove faces his first major test as Chief Whip after the Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral appealed to him over the David Ruffley debacle. The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward has written to Ruffley, telling him “your position is untenable”, copying the letter to a number of senior local Tory figures, the Chief Whip and Lord Tebbit. Dr Ward recounts a damning conversation she had with Ruffley over the phone last week, revealing Ruffley tried to blame the victim for his violent assault:

“You tried to convince me that in the ‘incident’ back in March there was blame on both sides. When I visited ■■■■■■■■■■■■■■ in March a day or so after the event and went to hug her as my usual greeting, she winced in obvious pain. She told me as a friend and her priest of the events of the evening that had led to your arrest, and how frightened she had been of your rage and violent behaviour.”

Click below to read the letter in full:

The Dean is one of the most influential figures in Bury St Edmunds, so her intervention will concern the local and central party. Greg Hands wouldn’t put up with this…

Ruffley Faces Tory Crisis Meeting as Voters Call for His Head

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Bury St. Edmunds Conservative Association has brought forward a meeting of its executive from 9 September to 31 July – Thursday week. They will grill David Ruffley over his caution for assaulting a woman, unsurprisingly once again both Ruffley and the association declined to comment when approached by the BBC last night. Jenny Antill of the Suffolk Domestic Abuse Partnership, who is also a Tory county council cabinet member, has added her name to the growing list calling on him to resign:

“He is a part of a government who has stood out firmly against domestic abuse in all its forms and I think under those circumstances he really must consider his position.”

Ruffley now has nine days to come up with an explanation as to how he can be a candidate for parliament after accepting a caution for violently assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Staying silent didn’t work…

dean-ruffley

Elsewhere BBC’s Look East is now following the issue closely and the local Green Party is meeting tomorrow to consider how to make Ruffley’s behaviour an issue during the election campaign. Now the issue has spread out into wider civil society locally with the Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral having now written to Ruffley calling on him to consider his position as calls mount for his resignation. The issue won’t go away…

WATCH: Yet More Voters Call on Ruffley to Resign

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Following on from this blog’s Guy News special two weeks ago, the BBC have also vox-popped voters in Bury St. Edmunds over whether they think he is fit to remain as their MP. The verdict was unanimous:[…]

+ READ MORE +

And the Lord Spake Unto MPs…

And Lo!  All the MPs saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain spinning, and they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said unto Lord Bew, chairman of the Committee […]

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Butler-Sloss Stands Down

Last week the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman insisted:

“The focus was on finding a person with the right expertise and integrity. That’s exactly what we have in Elizabeth Butler-Sloss.” 

Theresa May vowed:

 “Baroness Butler-Sloss brings with her many years of

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Campaigners Condemn Emergency Big Brother Powers

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The PM left his Lobby summer drinks party early last night to hammer out an agreement with rowing ministers over new emergency snooping legislation. This morning Cameron and Clegg announced that fast-track laws would be rushed through to allow spooks […]

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