'Bordering on sexual assault': Chris Pincher accuser speaks about 'horrifying' experience

ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen has spoken to a man who says he was inappropriately touched by Chris Pincher during a meeting in the MP's constituency office in 2018

A man who alleges he was inappropriately touched by former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher has told ITV News he was "horrified" by his experience with the MP as he accused him of behaviour he says was "bordering on sexual assault".

Mark Dabbs claims Mr Pincher was "very suggestive about things" during their meeting in his constituency office in 2018 where the MP allegedly touched his thigh and back.

He's opened up about his alleged experience after the former minister resigned from government after being accused of "groping" two men.

He told Prime Minister Johnson he was quitting government after he "drank too much" and "embarrassed" himself at a Tory private members' club on Wednesday last week.

Mr Dabbs said he'd began realising things about his 2018 meeting with Mr Pincher after reading reports about the incident which led to his resignations, and a number of others which emerged over the weekend.

Their meeting had been arranged so Mr Dabbs could ask the former minister if he would be interviewed for a book he was writing, but the politician made a number of comments about the charity worker's appearance.

The MP allegedly said Mr Dabbs was "very thin, very tall", and after learning he was a runner, responding: "Oh I bet you've got a lot of stamina...I bet you've got strong legs."

Mr Dabbs said he did not consider that the MP was acting in a "sinister" way because he regarded him as someone he could trust, "like a teacher or a doctor".

But he became "very horrified" after what he alleges was Mr Pincher's inappropriate touching.

"He was touching me here [rubs thigh] and immediately you're a little bit cautious of people invading your body space.

"It's not something you have all the time but I thought maybe he's just being friendly and then he's putting his arm around me and then he's touching me at the back."

"I'm very horrified at that," he added, "you don't know what to do really because this is someone who is in [a position of] trust like a teacher or a doctor."

Mr Pincher said he is now seeking “professional medical support” and hopes to return to work as an MP as "soon as possible".

The politician has been approached for a response to the allegations and while he has not offered a statement, it is understood he strongly denies the claims made by Mr Dabbs.

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 Conservative Party conference.

How have the Chris Pincher allegations affected Boris Johnson politically? ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston reports

The Sunday Times alleged he made unwanted passes at two Conservative MPs in 2017 and 2018 – after his first resignation as a whip.

And a Tory MP told the Independent he was groped on two occasions by Mr Pincher, first in December 2021 and again last month.

Mr Pincher is has so far resisted pressure to resign over the allegations but Mr Dabbs suggested to ITV News the MP should be sanctioned for his behaviour.

"I know myself what he did there and if he's done it to others then this needs to be addressed and really it's unwanted isn't it and its bordering on sexual assault and sexual offences."

Mr Dabbs said he thought again about Mr Pincher's behaviour during their meeting after he read about the other allegations.

"Thinking about it, he was very secretive, he was very careful and cautious with regards to when people were there and when they weren't.

"These things become clear to me now I know the sort of thing that's been happening but at the time you're never really suspicious of people's actions, you always take them at face value."

He added: "This person is an MP - representing people - and you think, you know, 'this is someone I can trust', a bit like a like doctor or a nurse or a policeman and you don't think they're up to something sinister." 

The latest accusations against Mr Pincher come on top of claims made in 2017, in which Tory activist Alex Story accused him of making an inappropriate advance during an alleged incident in 2001.Mr Pincher resigned from his previous role in the Whips' Office at the time, referred himself to police, who took no further action, and the Conservative Party complaints procedure.

Despite this, Downing Street spent days insisting Prime Minister Johnson was not aware of the allegations facing his former deputy chief whip before appointing him, and a number of Cabinet ministers were sent to defend their leader with this claim in broadcast interviews.

But several fresh allegations over historical incidents were made against Mr Pincher over the weekend and Number 10 was forced to row back on its denials in a briefing with journalists on Monday morning.

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Mr Johnson's spokesman said the PM had been aware of the "speculation" there had been about Mr Pincher over a number of years when he made him deputy chief whip last February.

"I can't get into too much detail but he did take advice on some of the allegations that had been made, but there was no formal complaint at that time and it was deemed not appropriate to stop an appointment simply because of unsubstantiated allegations," the spokesman said.

"He was aware that there had been reports and speculation over the years with regards to this individual, but there were no specific allegation. There was no formal complaint at that time."An Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) investigation has been launched after it received a formal complaint before suspending him.

In a statement, Mr Pincher said he would “co-operate fully” with the investigation into his conduct.

“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.”