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Former Tory MP Chris Pincher has ‘taken steps’ to resign from the House of Commons, triggering a by-election in the safe seat of Tamworth, Staffordshire.

Days after losing an appeal against an eight-week suspension from parliament for groping two men at a private club last summer, the former deputy chief whip has announced he is stepping down as an MP.

In a statement, he said: “I have already said that I will not run in the next general election.

“However, following the decision of the independent expert panel, I wanted to speak to my office team and my family.

“I don’t want my constituents to be thrown into any further uncertainty, which is why I have made arrangements to resign and leave the Commons.

“Tamworth is a wonderful place and it was an honor to represent its people.

“I will make no further comment at this time.”

He has stayed away from Westminster since the allegations against him surfaced and were investigated, with friends saying his mental health suffered seriously as he considered what he should do next.

His resignation will speed up a by-election process that most observers thought likely, even though he had resisted the move. Pincher might have held on, but he likely would have had to face a recall petition that, if signed by 10% of his voters, would have triggered a by-election anyway.

Pincher had previously announced that he did not plan to run in the next general election.

The Conservatives had a majority of nearly 20,000 votes in Tamworth in the last election, in 2019.

On paper, that should be an easy catch for the Tories, but larger majorities have been overturned in recent by-elections.