Chris Pincher: Tory whip suspended after formal investigation launched into ‘groping’ allegations
Chris Pincher has tendered his resignation to prime minister Boris Johnson following the allegations
MP Chris Pincher has resigned as Tory chief whip after allegedly grouping two men during a drunken night that a Tory Party private members’ club. (Credit: PA)
The Conservative whip has been suspended from Chris Pincher after an investigation was launched into allegations he drunkenly groped two men at a private members’ club.
This means that the Tamworth MP will sit as an independent in the Commons for now.
Boris Johnson bowed to pressure after a complaint about the MP was made to Parliament’s watchdog that examines allegations of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct.
Mr Pincher tendered his resignation to the Prime Minister last night (30 June), after The Sun revealed that the former deputy chief whip had inappropriately touched two men during a night at the Carlton Club - a Tory Party private member’s club.
Mr Johnson had been resisting calls to go further and remove the whip, but today (1 July) the action was taken after a formal complaint was made to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS).
Former housing minister Kelly Tolhurst has been appointed as the new Tory deputy chief whip, Downing Street has said.
What’s been said?
A spokeswoman for Conservative chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Having heard that a formal complaint has been made to the ICGS, the PM has agreed with the Chief Whip that the whip should be suspended from Chris Pincher while the investigation is ongoing.
“We will not pre-judge that investigation. We urge colleagues and the media to respect that process.”
Boris Johnson spoke to a Tory MP who was with one of the men who was allegedly groped by Mr Pincher, a Downing Street source said.
“The account given was sufficiently disturbing to make the PM feel more troubled by all this,” the source told the PA news agency.
The Prime Minister was said to have been waiting for a formal investigation to begin before suspending the whip.
What allegedly happened at the Carlton Club?
On the evening of Wesnesday 29 June, Mr Pincher is believed to have been drinking in the Carlton Club in London’s Piccadilly.
It was during this drinking session that the MP was said to have groped the two men.
Several concerned colleagues stopped the alleged altercations, and had written to the Tory whips office to demand that he be removed from the party.
Mr Pincher issued his resignation as chief whip to Mr Johnson, to whom he has been a long-standing ally.
What did Chris Pincher say in his resignation letter?
In his resignation letter, Mr Pincher said: “Last night I drank far too much.
“I’ve embarrassed myself and other people which is the last thing I want to do and for that I apologise to you and to those concerned.
“I think the right thing to do in the circumstances is for me to resign as Deputy Chief Whip. I owe it to you and the people I’ve caused upset to, to do this.
“I want to assure you that you will continue to have my full support from the back benches, and I wish you all the best as you deal with aftershocks of COVID and the challenges of international inflation.
“It has been the honour of my life to have served in Her Majesty’s Government.”
Previous allegations against Chris Pincher
This is not the first time Chris Pincher, who was was appointed alongside chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris in February, has faced complaints about his behaviour.
Politico’s London Playbook reported that Boris Johnson was made aware of allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Mr Pincher before appointing him as the second-in-command in the whips office.
No 10 declined to comment on the claims.
It is the second time Mr Pincher has quit the whips office, having resigned as a junior whip in November 2017 following a complaint that he made an unwanted pass at the former Olympic rower and Conservative candidate Alex Story.
Having referred himself to both the police and the Conservative Party complaints procedure, he was brought back by Theresa May as deputy chief whip in January 2018.
When Mr Johnson became Prime Minister in July 2019, he was moved to the Foreign Office as minister for Europe and the Americas before returning to the whips office for a third time.