David Warburton, the MP for Somerton and Frome, is facing an inquiry by the parliamentary standards commissioner.
The Conservatives suspended the whip from Warburton in April after a series of allegations emerged concerning sexual harassment and cocaine use.
It is not the role of the parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone, to investigate these claims. But her office announced on Wednesday that she had launched an inquiry into whether Warburton had broken the code of conduct for MPs on three counts, including paid advocacy and failure to declare a gift or other benefit.
The Times reported in April that Warburton had asked City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority to look more favourably on a Russian financier, Roman Joukovski, who had previously provided him with an undeclared loan of close to £150,000, for a holiday rental property.
When allegations against Warburton first appeared, the Sunday Times published a photo, said to be from February, of him allegedly sitting alongside lines of cocaine. It was claimed at the time that it was taken at the home of a younger woman he had met through politics.
Warburton, who is married with two children, insisted at the time that he had “enormous amounts of defence, but unfortunately the way things work means that doesn’t come out first”.
Sexual harassment allegations relating to MPs can be investigated by the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) if a complaint is made to it. Warburton is understood to be the subject of an inquiry by the ICGS, but it does not disclose who it is looking at until it has reached a verdict.
It was the standards commissioner’s inquiry into lobbying by Owen Paterson that led to the former Conservative MP facing a potential suspension from the House of Commons and ultimately resigning, after a botched bid to save him by Boris Johnson.
The Liberal Democrats took Paterson’s North Shropshire seat and are hoping to win Tiverton and Honiton on Thursday in another sleaze-related byelection, called after Tory MP Neil Parish was caught watching pornography in the House of Commons chamber.
Ed Davey’s party would relish a crack at another seat in the south-west if Warburton’s behaviour were found to merit a potential suspension from the Commons.
Any suspension of 10 or more sitting days can trigger a recall election if 10% of voters in the constituency sign a petition calling for one. This happened in the case of Fiona Onasanya, the Labour MP convicted of perverting the course of justice over a speeding ticket, for example.