Chris Pincher accuser 'shell-shocked' by delay to remove Tory whip over groping claims
Pressure continues to grow on Boris Johnson over his decision to give Chris Pincher a ministerial role and the delay in removing the Tory whip after groping allegations emerged.
One of Mr Pincher's latest accusers has said he was “shell-shocked” by the decision not to immediately kick him out of the parliamentary party.
The MP for Tamworth quit as Conservative deputy chief whip after he was accused of drunkenly groping two men at a private members’ club in London this week.
The prime minister only bowed to pressure to remove the whip from his ally, meaning he is now sitting in the Commons as an independent, after an official investigation was launched.
Mr Johnson was also facing questions over how much he knew about Mr Pincher’s behaviour when he made him deputy chief whip in February.
Former adviser Dominic Cummings said the prime minister had referred to the MP “laughingly in No 10 as ‘Pincher by name, pincher by nature’ long before appointing him.”
After another scandal for the Tory party, Conservative MPs are being urged to spend more time in their constituencies to distance themselves from Westminster
Fresh allegations emerged as Mr Pincher said he is seeking “professional medical support” and hopes to return to represent his constituents in Staffordshire “as soon as possible.”
The Mail on Sunday alleged he threatened to report a parliamentary researcher to her boss after she tried to stop his “lecherous” advances to a young man at a Tory party conference.
The Sunday Times alleged he made unwanted passes at two Conservative MPs in 2017 and 2018, after his first resignation as a whip over claims he made unwanted advances to Olympic rower and Conservative candidate Alex Story.
One of the latest alleged victims shared his anger at Mr Johnson over his handling of the incident at the exclusive Carlton Club on Wednesday.
The man told the Sunday Times that he initially did not want to report the incident, thinking “this is something that happens in Westminster.”
“But I am angered by the fact that I should feel like that, and even more angry by the way No 10 have dealt with it... I am furious. I know it sounds really silly but I felt shell-shocked when I found out they were initially going to let him keep the whip,” he added.
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Mr Pincher did not respond to requests for comment on the latest allegations, but the newspapers behind them said he denied the claims.
Downing Street did not deny that there had been concerns about Mr Pincher before his appointment, but insisted Mr Johnson “was not aware of any specific allegations.”
On Sunday morning, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told Sky News “I don’t know about any individual conversations" when asked if Me Johnson was aware of allegations before the appointment.
“It’s been suggested there was a discussion, a referral to Pet (propriety and ethics) – which happens with all ministerial appointments, there’s an element of a bit of vetting that goes on – but ultimately the decision is that of the prime minister. I’m not part of those individual conversations," she said.
“Chris had served in government before and had been a minister elsewhere, so I’m not aware that there was anything that was brought to the attention of the prime minister to make that change.”
Mr Johnson initially resisted calls to remove the whip until Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme launched an investigation on Friday.
The latest allegations came after the Conservative Party was hit by a series of scandals relating to sexual misconduct.
In May, Neil Parish quit as MP for Tiverton and Honiton after admitting viewing pornography in the Commons chamber.
A month earlier then-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 Tory MP has been told by whips to stay away from Parliament after being arrested on suspicion of rape and other offences.
In a statement, Mr Pincher said he would “co-operate fully” with the investigation.
“As I told the prime minister, I drank far too much on Wednesday night, embarrassing myself and others, and I am truly sorry for the upset I caused,” he continued.
“The stresses of the last few days, coming on top of those over the last several months, have made me accept that I will benefit from professional medical support.
“I am in the process of seeking that now, and I hope to be able to return to my constituency duties as soon as possible.”