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A Conservative whip’s office spokesman said the “whip has not been suspended” after the former minister was arrested and taken to an east London police station on Saturday morning and later released on bail. He said: “These are serious allegations and it is right that they are investigated fully. The whip has not been suspended. “This decision will be reviewed once the police investigation has been concluded.”
The Conservative MP was arrested after a former parliamentary aide reportedly accused him of rape, sexual assault and coercive control.
The ex-minister, who has not been named, is alleged to have assaulted a woman, in her 20s, and forced her to have sex, the Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday said.
The abuse is alleged to have taken place during a relationship.
Labour said it is “shocking” that the whip had not been suspended.
Shadow safeguarding minister Jess Phillips criticised the Tories for failing to suspend the whip from the Tory MP in question, a move that would effectively eject him from the party.
Speaking to Times Radio, the Labour MP said: “It is very difficult to comment on the case itself because it is quite rightly in front of the criminal justice system.
“But what I would say in this matter, is in any organisation – especially one like Members of Parliament who everyday work with vulnerable people, young activists, members of staff – in any other organisation, were this police investigation to be going on, somebody would be suspended while the investigation was taking place.”
Calling the lack of action “shocking”, Ms Phillips said it sent a “terrible message” that senior figures were still able to secure “protection” from their Westminster status.
She added: “While pending a police investigation for a sexual crime, I think it is only right that the whip is withdrawn.”
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said he did not know the name of the MP involved, but added that he was “confident” the party was taking the matter seriously.
The Cabinet minister told Times Radio: “I’ve read the accusations in the newspapers this morning but I don’t know more than you do in that respect.
“These are very serious allegations and they should be investigated.
“They’re in the hands of the police, so I don’t think I can comment any more than that.”
Asked whether he personally wanted to see the Tory whip removed from the MP under police investigation, Mr Jenrick said: “We need to take allegations of this nature very seriously and I’m confident that the party is, and will do”.
The Metropolitan Police said they received allegations on Friday of sexual offences and assault relating to four separate incidents at addresses in London, including in Westminster, between July last year and January this year.
A spokesman for the Met said: “On Friday 31 July, 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 was arrested on suspicion of rape and is currently in custody in an east London police station.”
Mr Jenrick said Parliament “needs to be” a safe environment for young women to work in.
He told Times Radio: “There has clearly been some very difficult allegations and cases in recent years.
“We need to make sure, like any other workplace, it is one that’s fit for everybody, where everybody feels safe and comfortable working, and when allegations are raised they are treated with the seriousness they deserve.”
The woman’s complaint was reported to another MP who raised it with chief whip Mark Spencer and leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg before she went to the police, Sky News reported.
A spokesman 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.”
The Conservative Party said in a statement: “We take all allegations of this nature extremely seriously.
“As this matter is now in the hands of the police it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
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