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CofE cleric calls on MP to quit over assault

A Church of England cleric has urged a Conservative MP who received a police caution for a domestic assault to consider his position.

Dean of St Edmundsbury, the Very Revd Dr Frances Ward in Suffolk has been joined by support groups and local politicians who have all called on David Ruffley MP to step down from his seat in Bury St Edmunds.

Mr Ruffley, a former shadow police minister has also been referred to the party's new chief whip, Michael Gove.

In a letter Revd Ward told Mr Ruffley thatr he had lost the confidence of voters in his Bury St Edmunds constituency over the assault.

In a statement Mr Ruffley has admitted the incident and apologised, he 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."

"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."

Mr Ruffley was reselected as the Conservative candidate for the constituency in next year's general election before his arrest.

It's led several other figures including the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk to question the MP's position.

In a statement, Tim Passmore said: "If a caution is accepted by the offender then there is, I believe, an implicit admission of guilt.

"The caution was made by the Metropolitan Police. I would like to reiterate that domestic abuse is a dreadful crime which should not, and must not ever be tolerated, regardless of the circumstances. This applies to all people regardless of wealth or status in society."

"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.

"Those of us in a leadership role in society must do our level best at all times and try to set a good example to others in what we do and how we behave - that includes all politicians regardless of any party affiliation. In my opinion there cannot and must not be any hiding place for the perpetrators of such brutal crimes."

Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association executive is reportedly due to meet next week where Mr Ruffley's future is expected to be discussed.

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