Tory MP accused of ‘drunken groping’ suspended by party

Politics

A Tory MP accused of drunkenly groping two men has been suspended by the party.

Chris Pincher has had the Conservative whip withdrawn at Westminster over the claims, forcing him to sit as an independent without the support of the parliamentary group.

The 52-year-old resigned from his role as deputy chief whip and apologised after admitting he had drunk “far too much” and “embarrassed myself and other people” on a night out.

A spokesperson for the Chief Whip said: “Having heard that a formal complaint has been made to the ICGS [Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme], 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.”

Former housing minister Kelly Tolhurst has been appointed as the new Tory deputy chief whip.

Mr Pincher “groped two men in front of others” at the Carlton Club in the St James’s area of central London, a government source told Sky News.

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One of those groped is an MP, and the second one may also be a member of parliament, the source added.

Cabinet minister Simon Hart said any victims should raise complaints, telling Sky News that something had gone “terribly wrong” and that the allegations made him “very sad”.

In his government role, Mr Pincher had been responsible for party discipline and the smooth running of government business at Westminster.

At the last election, Mr Pincher was returned to his Tamworth seat with a majority of more than 19,000 and this could be vulnerable if he were to step down, coming after two recent bruising by-election defeats for the Tories.

One of those saw the Tories have a 24,000 majority wiped out by the Liberal Democrats in Honiton and Tiverton – a record reversal for the party.

This is the second time the MP has quit the whips’ office.

In November 2017, Downing Street said he had “voluntarily referred himself both to the party’s complaints procedure and the police”.

The Mail on Sunday reported that Mr Pincher had been accused of making an unwanted pass at Conservative activist and former British rower Alex Story.

Mr Pincher told the newspaper: “If Mr Story has ever felt offended by anything I said, then I can only apologise to him.”

Theresa May reappointed him to the whips’ office the following year.

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