Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Boris Johnson facing questions over delay to suspending ‘groping’ Tory MP

Boris Johnson was facing questions about Chris Pincher (John Sibley/PA)
Boris Johnson was facing questions about Chris Pincher (John Sibley/PA)

Boris Johnson was facing questions over his delay in suspending the Tory whip from an MP accused of drunkenly groping two men at a private members’ club.

Fresh allegations emerged against Chris Pincher after the Prime Minister bowed to pressure when an investigation was launched by Parliament’s sexual misconduct watchdog on Friday.

Mr Pincher quit as Tory deputy chief whip when allegations of unwanted touching at London’s Carlton Club emerged a day earlier.

With the whip suspended, Mr Pincher will sit as an independent in the Commons but was remaining as the MP for Tamworth in Staffordshire, despite opponents saying his position is untenable.

The Prime Minister had been resisting calls to act until the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) launched an investigation after receiving a formal complaint.

Mr Johnson spoke to several individuals on Friday, including a Tory MP who was with one of the men who was allegedly groped by Mr Pincher, a Downing Street source said.

“The account given was sufficiently disturbing to make the PM feel more troubled by all this,” the source told the PA news agency.

Further claims were levelled against Mr Pincher, with the Times reporting a young Tory activist receiving an unwanted sexual advance last year.

The activist said the MP put his hand on his knee and told him he would “go far in the party” at a party conference event last year.

Mr Pincher’s lawyers told the newspaper he firmly denies the allegation, which mirrors a complaint which led to the MP’s resignation from the whips office for the first time, in 2017.

Former Olympic rower and Conservative candidate Alex Story alleged Mr Pincher touched him while making an unwanted pass and using similar language.

Mr Pincher was reinstated two months later as a senior whip by Theresa May after having referred himself to both the police and the Conservative Party complaints procedure.

Downing Street appeared to acknowledge that there had been concerns when he was appointed in February to the whips’ office, with responsibility for discipline over Tory MPs.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson has been told to expel Mr Pincher from the Tory Party (John Sibley/PA)

However, a No 10 spokesman said the Prime Minister had not been made aware of anything that would have prevented the appointment going ahead.

“In the absence of any formal complaints, it was not appropriate to stop an appointment on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations,” the spokesman said.

Tory Andrew Bridgen suggested Downing Street was guilty of “double standards” in the difference in the handling of the “arch loyalist” and Neil Parish, the Conservative who was forced to stand down as an MP after admitting watching pornography in the Commons.

Mr Bridgen said No 10’s action had been insufficient, telling BBC Newsnight: “For those who wish to maintain confidence in the Prime Minister or even regain it it has been a particularly bad day.

“Neil was a very independent-minded Conservative backbencher, he never really sought patronage and he did hold ministers to account. Chris Pincher is seen as an arch-loyalist and I think that, to most people, will be the reason for the difference in their treatment. And that’s not tenable either.”

Kelly Tolhurst (House of Commons/PA)
Kelly Tolhurst has replaced Mr Pincher as Conservative deputy chief whip (House of Commons/PA)

The backbencher said allegations about Mr Pincher had been “swirling around Westminster for years” and would likely have been known by the whips’ office, which he described as the “eyes and ears” of No 10.

Caroline Nokes and Karen Bradley, two senior Tory MPs who chair Commons select committees, called for Mr Johnson to implement a “zero tolerance” policy over sexual misconduct claims.

Mr Pincher was brought in alongside chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris, another trusted ally, to shore up support for the Prime Minister amid growing unrest among Tory MPs over the disclosures about lockdown parties in Downing Street.

But he was now being replaced by former housing minister Kelly Tolhurst, the MP for Rochester and Strood.

The latest allegations came after the Conservative Party was hit by a series of scandals relating to sexual misconduct.

In May, Mr Parish quit as MP for Tiverton and Honiton after admitting viewing pornography in the Commons chamber, while the previous month Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan was jailed for 18 months for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.

In both cases the Conservatives lost the ensuing by-elections.

A third unnamed Conservative MP has been told by the whips to stay away from Parliament after he was arrested on suspicion of rape and other offences.

In his resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Pincher apologised for his behaviour.

“Last night I drank far too much. I’ve embarrassed myself and other people which is the last thing I want to do and for that I apologise to you and to those concerned,” he said.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

More from The Courier Politics team

More from The Courier