The Newark MP and former shadow minister for homeland security has announced his intentions to stand down after a joint investigation by the Telegraph and the BBC’s Panorama programme.
A former British Army colonel, Mercer served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Canada before being elected to Parliament in the 2001 general election. He served on the frontbench under Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard and David Cameron and has long been a friend to the security industry.
The MP has announced his decision to resign the whip and he will not stand at the next general election for the Nottinghamshire constituency. Mercer won the seat in 2001 after recapturing Newark from then Labour MP Fiona Jones and he turned it into a safe Tory seat with a majority of over 16,000.
Mercer, 56, said in a statement: “Panorama are planning to broadcast a programme alleging that I have broken Parliamentary rules.
“I am taking legal advice about these allegations – and I have referred myself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.
“In the meantime, to save my Party embarrassment, I have resigned the Conservative Whip and have so informed Sir George Young.
“I have also decided not to stand at the next general election.”
The Conservatives stated that David Cameron was “aware” of the developments surrounding Mercer. The decision to resign the whip but remain in parliament removes the prospect of another mid-term election that could potentially damage the party.
A spokesman said: “The Prime Minister is aware. He thinks Patrick Mercer has done the right thing in referring himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and resigning the whip.
“It’s important that the due processes take their course.”
A statement from the BBC said the Panorama programme is still in production and “will be broadcast as soon as possible”.
“BBC Panorama has been investigating lobbying and the conduct of MPs and members of the House of Lords,” it said. “The investigation has raised a number of issues related to those involved. Panorama has sought responses from a number of people including Mr Mercer.”