Alleged rape victim of Tory MP 'devastated' party won't suspend him

Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen

A woman accusing a Tory MP of raping her has said she was "devastated" to learn how the former minister was not suspended by the party following his arrest.

The alleged victim told ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand that senior ministers "seem to care more about protecting the MP and the party, than protecting victims and other women".

On Saturday, "a man in his 50s" was arrested on suspicion of rape and has since been bailed, the Metropolitan Police confirmed.

The woman - an ex-Parliamentary worker - claims she told Tory Chief Whip Mark Spencer about the MP's behaviour four months ago, but a source for the senior Conservative said he was not made aware of the "magnitude" of allegations.

"It’s taken me a long time to build up the courage and strength to finally go to the police. It was a relief yesterday to see he was arrested so quickly," she said.

She told of her "relief" at hearing the MP had been arrested but said she was "devastated to learn that they won’t suspend the whip".

"I feel like the chief whip has never taken my allegations seriously or even cared," she added.

"Since the news of the arrest, the chief whip or anyone from the party have not contacted me at all, not to discuss the caseworker, offer support or anything," the alleged victim said, adding how they have her number and email address.

She said she'd put in requests to speak to the chief whip and leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg but has not heard anything back.

Chief Whip Mark Spencer did not directly respond when asked if reports were true that he had been made aware of the allegations as early as April, but said he was taking the reports "very seriously".

"I've nothing to add at this stage, I mean there is an ongoing police investigation, I think we need to wait for the police to do their work," he told a reporter.

"They'll come forward with their findings and at that stage I think we can start and address the issues in hand."

The allegations relate to four separate incidents claimed to have taken place between July 2019 and January 2020.

The Sunday Times, which reported the woman and the MP were in a relationship last year, says the MP "assaulted her, forced her to have sex and left her so traumatised that she had to go to hospital".

Chief Whip Spencer explained why the MP had not been suspended from the party, saying "it's down to the police to do that thorough investigation, not for the Whip's Office to investigate this alleged crime".

The decision not to remove the whip means the MP will be allowed to continue representing the Conservatives in the House of Commons.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also declined to comment on the allegations, or the party's decision not to suspend the MP.

"This is a very sensitive matter, it's under police investigation and hence I can't make any comment," he said.

The Tory MP's name has not been revealed in order to protect the identity of the victim.

Mr Spencer said people must "bear in mind the victim, we don’t want to do anything to identify the victim at the same time".

Labour's shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, Jess Phillips, says it is "shocking" the MP hasn't been suspended and has been calling for the man to be named.

"There is no law in this country that provides anonymity to those who are accused, that is just a simple fact and the Conservative Party trying to pretend that they are doing this out of the best interest for the victim that they doesn't hold water," she told ITV News.

She added: "I absolutely think that there is a safeguarding issue and an issue about there being one rule for the rest of the country and one rule for politics."

"If you're a constituent in this man's constituency I think that maybe you have a right to choose whether you want to safeguard yourself because the Conservative Party have chosen not to safeguard by suspending the Tory whip.

"Very vulnerable people go and see members of Parliament and the country has a right - just like they do with teachers, just like they do with police officers, just like they do in hospitals - they have a right to be kept safeguarding when allegations like this are made."