Boris Johnson has come under increasing pressure to explain why he appointed an MP to the government who has been linked to repeated allegations of inappropriate behavior.
Chris Pincher resigned as deputy whip director on Thursday night and was suspended from the party on Friday following allegations that he groped two men at the Carlton Club in London.
Downing Street said the prime minister considered the matter closed after he resigned, but hours later Pincher stripped the Conservative Party of his whip after he was reported to the Independent Complaints and Complaints Programme. establishment of parliament.
Pressure for Pincher to step down as MP grew on Sunday as statements spanning more than a decade were made in the Mail on Sunday, Sunday Times and Independent newspapers.
Among these are three alleged cases where he made unwanted advances towards male MPs.
No formal complaints have been made and Pincher denied the allegations to the newspapers. He said he was seeking professional medical help and did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.
In 2017, Pincher resigned from a junior role after being accused of making an unwanted pass to Alex Story, a Conservative activist and former Olympic rower. After an investigation into the party, he was cleared of violating that party’s code of conduct.
Johnson appointed Pincher as junior secretary of state in 2019 and then housing minister before making him deputy director general five months ago.
Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former chief of staff, said the prime minister was aware of Pincher’s alleged conduct. “Why did he keep calling him jokingly in Number 10 ‘Pincher by name, pincher by nature’ long before appointing him?” he said on Twitter.
Asked on Sunday if the prime minister was aware of the charges against Pincher before this week, work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “I don’t believe Boris Johnson was aware” of any incidents. any specific job. “That’s what I was told today,” she added.
But the Sunday Times reported that in February, an MP who claimed to have received an unwanted pass from Pincher in 2018 – but did not complain at the time – alerted police chief Chris. Heaton-Harris and a Downing Street official about the incident. He voiced concern that Pincher was about to be appointed to the position of deputy chief whip, in charge of welfare and discipline of other MPs.
On Sunday night, Labor Chairwoman Anneliese Dodds wrote to Johnson asking for “urgent answers” about whether he was aware of the complaints about Pincher before he was appointed deputy head of the whip. no and why the prime minister doesn’t believe these allegations prompt an investigation.
“Only Boris Johnson could look at this guy’s record and think ‘he deserves a promotion,'” Dodds said.
Pincher’s allegations come after months of revelations about bad behavior by Conservative MPs, far beyond the scandals that spanned the last years of Sir John Major’s prime ministerial tenure in the 1990s.
An unnamed Tory MP was arrested in May on suspicion of rape and sexual assault. Charlie Elphicke, a former Tory MP for Dover, was sentenced to two years in prison for sexual assault in July 2020.
Imran Ahmad Khan resigned as Tory MP for Wakefield after being found guilty of molesting a 15-year-old boy. David Warburton has been suspended from the party following sexual harassment allegations, which he denies.
The ICGS will review complaints against Pincher and may refer them to the so-called independent panel of experts, which has the power to impose sanctions on MPs such as suspending activities in the House of Commons.
Conservative Staff for Change, a new campaign group, will meet Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle on Wednesday.
The team, led by two 22-year-old congressional aides, will present to Hoyle allegations of inappropriate behavior by MPs ranging from bullying to sexual assault.
“Sexual abuse, harassment and bullying have begun to become synonymous with politics,” they said. “However, more and more allegations of illegal conduct are being treated as mere rumours. . . in any other workplace, things would never have been allowed to get this bad.”