Boris Johnson didn’t know specific claims about ‘groping’ MP, says minister

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Therese Coffey defended the Prime Minister over his decision to give the MP, who has been stripped of the Conservative whip, a key ministerial role despite numerous sexual misconduct allegations. But Dominic Cummings, the former Downing Street adviser, alleges that Mr Johnson had referred to the MP as “Pincher by name, pincher by nature” a long time before handing him the job in February.

Mr Pincher, MP for Tamworth in Staffordshire, resigned from the position after he was accused of drunkenly groping two men at a private members’ club in London last week. Mr Johnson then took action to remove the whip – meaning he is now sitting in the House of Commons as an independent – after an official investigation was launched.

Mr Pincher had already quit the whips’ office in 2017 after a complaint that he had made an unwanted pass at former Team GB Olympic rower and Conservative candidate Alex Story. He alleged at the time the MP untucked the back of his shirt, massaged his neck and whispered: “You’ll go far in the Tory Party.”

Ms Coffey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, stated yesterday that “to the best of my knowledge” the Prime Minister “was not aware of specific claims that had been made”.

She added: “That’s what I’ve been told today.” Ms Coffey went on to say that she is not “part of the general chatter, rumour mill discussions” and did not know of concerns about Mr Pincher. But she added: “I don’t believe he’s been in a long-term relationship.”

Fresh allegations emerged as Mr Pincher said he is seeking “professional medical support” and hopes to return to represent his constituents “as soon as possible”.

One report claims 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.

There have also been accusations he made unwanted passes at two Conservative MPs in 2017 and 2018 after his first resignation as a whip.

One Tory MP reportedly claims he was groped on two occasions by Mr Pincher, first in December 2021 and again last month. Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds said elements of Ms Coffey’s defence were “desperate”.

He added: “It’s clear from what we know this morning that Chris Pincher should never have been put back into the whips’ office.”

Mr Pincher said he would “co-operate fully” with the investigation by Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme.

He added: “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.

“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.”

But Mr Pincher had last night still to respond to requests for comment on the latest allegations.

Meanwhile, Tory MP Craig Whittaker has insisted he left his role in the whips’ office in February because of “health issues I was experiencing at the time” rather than in opposition to Mr Pincher’s appointment.

The latest allegations follow the Tories being hit by a series of scandals relating to sexual misconduct.

Neil Parish quit as MP for Tiverton and Honiton in May after admitting viewing pornography in the Commons chamber. The then-Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan was jailed in the same month for a year and a half for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.

In both cases, the Conservatives lost the resulting 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.

I froze when he touched me, claims alleged victim

One of the two men allegedly groped by former Tory whip Chris Pincher has told how he “froze” when the MP “touched his groin”.

The man, in his 20s, has accused Mr Pincher of grabbing his buttock then moving his hand on to his upper leg while drunk at a private members’ bar.

The victim said it was the first time he had met Mr Pincher. He said the evening began with them discussing a mutual friend in the Carlton Club, a Tory watering hole in central London.

He said, “I had my drink in my hand and he grabbed my a**e. And then slowly … moved his hand down the front of my groin,” he told the Sunday Times. “I froze a little bit and it ended after about two or three seconds. It was a very bizarre thing.”

The man claimed that Tory whip Sarah Dines had witnessed the alleged attack at the members-only club, the original home of the Tory party in St James’s, central London.

Fellow Conservative Mark Fletcher then threw Mr Pincher, 52, out of the venue after seeing him staggering around the room.

The alleged victim added: “I said that might have happened in the 1970s and 1980s but it’s not OK now. She [Dines] agreed and said she had sons and this is why she would never let them work in Parliament.”

The man has demanded that chief whip Chris Heaton- Harris look into his complaint.

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