Beckenham’s MP breached the Parliamentary code of conduct over an “egregious” attempt to influence legal proceedings involving a former MP found guilty of sexual offences.

Colonel Bob Stewart is one of five MPs who wrote to the judge overseeing the trial of Charlie Elphicke, who was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault against two women last year.

Writing on House of Commons notepaper after the verdict, Mr Stewart said Elphicke's sentence should take into account his hard work as an MP and described his crimes as "folly".

News Shopper: Charlie Elphicke with his ex-wifeCharlie Elphicke with his ex-wife

Theresa Villiers, Natalie Elphicke, Sir Roger Gale, Adam Holloway were also investigated.

The committee recommended that former environment secretary Ms Villiers, senior Conservative Sir Roger, and Ms Elphicke should be suspended from the House for one day, while all five were told to apologise.

All five wrote to senior members of the judiciary raising concerns that a more junior judge was considering publishing character references provided for Mr Elphicke.

“The letters signed and sent by the members in this case were an attempt improperly to influence judicial proceedings,” the committee said.

“Such egregious behaviour is corrosive to the rule of law and, if allowed to continue unchecked, could undermine public trust in the independence of judges.”

The MPs’ behaviour was found to have “caused significant damage to the reputation and integrity” of the House of Commons.

Of the three recommended for suspension, two had “substantial legal experience” while the third, Sir Roger, is both the longest standing of the group and “still does not accept his mistake”.

They were all told to apologise to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, as well as to the House.

Tory peer Lord Freud has already apologised over the letter after having also been found to have breached the code of conduct.

The parliamentarians wrote to senior presiding judge Lady Justice Thirlwall and Queen’s Bench Division president Dame Victoria Sharp, asking them to consider issues raised by the potential release of character references provided for Mr Elphicke.

Written on headed House of Commons notepaper, the letter was also copied to Mrs Justice Whipple, who had heard the case and was deciding whether to release the references.

Ms Elphicke, Mr Elphicke’s estranged wife and his successor as Dover MP, apologised but raised concerns about the committee’s ruling in a statement.

“My actions were solely motivated by my duty to represent my constituents who had raised serious concerns with me. Those who approached me about this matter were private individuals who I believe have no place in the public eye,” she said.

“It is of deep concern to me that the committee did not fully recognise this.

“However, as I have already acknowledged, I do recognise that there were faults in the way I set about raising my constituents’ valid concerns. I regret and apologise for that and will learn from this experience in the future exercise of my duties as an MP.”

Mr Elphicke was jailed for two years in September last year after being convicted of three counts of assault against two women.

One of them said he had asked her about bondage and sex, then kissed her and groped her breast before chasing her around his home, chanting: “I’m a naughty Tory.”

In December 2020, Mrs Justice Whipple agreed to a representation by the media to release the identities of those behind the character references.