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Tory MP Faces Disciplinary For Partner Assault
Conservative MP David Ruffley is facing disciplinary proceedings after it emerged he had been given a police caution for assaulting his girlfriend.
The matter has been referred to Michael Gove after Mr Ruffley issued an apology through his lawyers for his "inappropriate action" four months after the police were called to his home, saying he did not "condone domestic violence".
The case was raised with Mr Gove by the Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral in the MP's Suffolk constituency.
Officers were called to the former shadow police minister's London flat in March after the incident with his partner and he accepted a police caution.
However, he now faces a fight for his political future amid suggestions he lacks support in his Bury St Edmunds constituency and could be dropped by his local Suffolk Conservative association.
Police and church leaders, support groups and local politicians have all called on him to step down.
In a letter to Mr Ruffley, a copy of which was sent to Mr Gove, the Very Reverend Frances Ward, said: "I had received sufficient comment and concern from a wide circle of people, both within the cathedral and through the town and county, to have arrived at the opinion that your position is untenable.
"I hope you take on board the extent of the concerns that I shared with you, for the sake of the town of Bury St Edmunds and the Conservative Party.
"It is my belief that you have lost the confidence of a significant proportion of your former supporters and should consider your position."
In his statement, Mr Ruffley said: "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."
He added he had apologised to his former partner and she had accepted the apology and said: "I wish to stress that I would never condone domestic violence under any circumstances."
The local Conservative association has brought forward a meeting of its executive committee from September 9 to July 31 and Mr Ruffley could face deselection ahead of the General Election.
Simon Pott, former vice-chair of the Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association, told Sky News: "I haven't found anybody who has given him any support. The overriding feeling is that he is going to go.
"The only reason we feel he has given an apology is because he feels his job is on the line."
"He should resign at once and go off to undertake charity work in whichever place will harness his undoubted talents. His place could be taken by someone who has the ability to achieve high office, which is now denied to him."
The Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, said: "The future of David Ruffley as a Member of Parliament and prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate for the Bury St Edmunds constituency is a matter for their association but I hope I have made my views entirely clear - such behaviour is inexcusable."
The Conservatives confirmed the matter was now being dealt with by the newly appointed Mr Gove.