Downing Street announced he had stood down from the Department of International Trade after the Commons standards committee recommended he should be suspended from Parliament for seven days. The committee’s report published on Monday morning said he had used his position as an MP to “attempt to intimidate” a member of the public into doing as he wished over a financial dispute involving his father.
The committee said the dispute related to private family interests and he “persisted in making veiled threats” to use parliamentary privilege to “further his family’s interests” during the course of the investigation.
He was found to have made “veiled threats”.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “Conor Burns has resigned as minister of state for international trade following a report from the Parliamentary commissioner for standards. A replacement will be announced in due course.”
Sign our petition to give Captain Tom Moore a knighthood
The complaint into the MP for Bournemouth West alleged he had attempted to secure a payment to his father by suggesting he may use parliamentary privilege to raise the case in the Commons unless he secured the payment to his father.
The committee said: “The committee’s overall conclusion is that Mr Burns used his parliamentary position in an attempt to intimidate a member of the public into doing as Mr Burns wished, in a dispute relating to purely private family interests which had no connection with Mr Burns’ parliamentary duties, that he persisted in making veiled threats to use parliamentary privilege to further his family’s interests even during the course of the commissioner’s investigation, and that he misleadingly implied that his conduct had the support of the House authorities.
“The committee considers that Mr Burns’ abuse of his privileged status in an attempt to intimidate a member of the public calls for a sanction more severe than apology.
“It recommends that Mr Burns should be suspended from the service of the House for seven days.”
Mr Burns apologised in a letter to the committee saying: “As I have openly acknowledged, on reflection, I absolutely should not have written to the complainant in the terms I did or used House stationery to do so.
“I am sorry I did so and regret it. My motivation was to try and get the company to engage with my father on a long running dispute.
“To this day they have not done so and my father is taking court action. This has had a significant negative impact on his health.
“At the time I wrote I was under a huge amount of personal stress as I explained to the Commissioner privately.
“I would ask the committee to consider the length of time this complaint has been hanging over me. My first letter from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is dated 12 March 2019.