Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley who has faced mounting criticism after receiving a police caution for assaulting his former partner is to stand down at next year’s general election.
Mr Ruffley, who also represents Stowmarket, confirmed in a letter to the town’s Conservative Association that he will not stand for re-election in May saying the ‘protracted media debate’ on his private life would not serve the interests of his party in East Anglia.
He added: “Nor at a human level, am I prepared to continue to sustain the unrelenting orchestrated intrusion into my personal life.”
Last week he broke his silence about a police caution he received in March for assaulting his former partner but has faced growing calls to stand down locally and nationally.
Andrew Speed, chairman of the Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association, said: “We would like to thank David for his service as our Member of Parliament since 1997, and we will continue to support him in that role until next May.
“Thereafter we wish him every success in his future career. The Association’s Executive Council will meet on July 31 to begin the process of identifying a suitable candidate to represent the Conservative Party at the General Election.”
In his letter to the Association, Mr Ruffley said: “It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve the wonderful people of Bury St Edmunds as their constituency member of Parliament since 1997. It is an area I have come to love and am proud to call my home.
“I will never forget the way the constituency stood by me while I recovered from a particularly difficult period of ill health four years ago. Equally I have been enormously grateful for the kindness and generosity of spirit shown to me in recent weeks by so many constituents and most of all for the loyal support from the tremendous members of the Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association.
“However, the next general election will be critical to our country’s future and I am absolutely committed to seeing David Cameron returned as Prime Minister at the head of a Conservative majority Government.
“Nothing is more important. Sadly, although I have apologised for a very regrettable incident last March and both my former partner and I considered the matter closed, I have recently come to the conclusion that a protracted media debate on my private life, whatever the motivation or however misinformed, will not serve the wider interest of the Conservative cause in East Anglia. Nor at a human level, am I prepared to continue to sustain the unrelenting orchestrated intrusion into my personal life.
“Last September I was, as you know, honoured and delighted to be reselected by the Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association once again to be your parliamentary candidate at the next general election.
“It is, therefore, with a very heavy heart that I wish to inform you that I will not stand again at the general election in May 2015.
“Finally, may I say how much I have appreciated your steadfast loyalty and friendship over these difficult few weeks and assure you of my own unwavering support for you and the association in the months and years ahead.”