Former Tory minister arrested on suspicion of rape
Parliamentary staffer alleges MP abused her on multiple occasions
The accuser worked in the Palace of Westminster and told police the politician abused her on multiple occasions. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA Wire
A British ex-Conservative minister was arrested on Saturday after a former female parliamentary staffer accused him of rape, sexual assault and coercive control.
The MP, who is not being named due to privacy concerns, was taken into custody in east London after an investigation was launched into four alleged incidents. The accuser worked in the Palace of Westminster and told police the politician abused her on multiple occasions.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: “On Friday, July 31st, the Metropolitan Police service received allegations relating to four separate incidents involving allegations of sexual offences and assault.
“These offences are alleged to have occurred at addresses in Westminster, Lambeth and Hackney between July 2019 and January 2020. The Met has launched an investigation into the allegations.
“A man in his 50s was arrested on Saturday, August 1st, on suspicion of rape. He has been released on bail to return on a date in mid-August.”
According to the Sunday Times, which first reported the story, the accuser reported the matter to parliament’s complaints and grievance scheme earlier this year, but decided to escalate it to police recently. She first approached the police on Friday evening and gave a lengthy interview on Saturday.
The newspaper reported that the alleged victim said the MP assaulted her and forced her into sex, requiring a visit to hospital.
Conservative MP Douglas Ross, who is standing for the leadership of the Scottish Tory party, said on Sunday: “These are extremely serious allegations and they have to be investigated thoroughly.”
The allegations follow the conviction of Charlie Elphicke, a former Tory whip, who was found guilty last week of three charges of sexual assault between 2007 and 2016. Mr Elphicke was suspended from the party after the “serious allegations” were referred to the police.
The ex-minister still has the party whip, although a spokesperson for Mark Spencer, the Conservative party chief whip, said this “decision will be reviewed once the police investigation has been concluded”.
The Conservatives said in a statement: “We take all allegations of this nature extremely seriously. As this matter is in the hands of the police, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
Another Conservative MP, Rob Roberts, is under a parliamentary investigation for allegations of misconduct, after text messages allegedly sent by him suggested he invited a female intern to “fool around” with him.
The arrest on Saturday will put further pressure on the Tory party leadership. According to the Sunday Times, a fellow MP raised the allegations with Mr Spencer and Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, a month ago after speaking to the complainant.
The Sunday Times said the victim spoke to the chief whip directly but no further action was taken. The newspaper reported that Mr Spencer did not believe a sexual assault was reported to him during the conversation.
A spokesperson for Mr Spencer said: “The chief whip takes all allegations of harassment and abuse extremely seriously and has strongly encouraged anybody who has approached him to contact the appropriate authorities, including parliament’s independent complaints and grievance scheme, which can formally carry out independent and confidential investigations.”
A spokesperson for Mr Rees-Mogg declined to comment, pointing to the statements by Mr Spencer and the Conservative party. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020