RICHARD KAY and ANDREW PIERCE examine Tory MP's 'cocaine' scandal 

Unsavoury mid-life crisis… or something even more sinister? RICHARD KAY and ANDREW PIERCE examine how Tory MP’s ‘cocaine’ scandal represents the unacceptable face of the political class

One day, perhaps, we will know everything about the David Warburton affair. We may come to understand what private pressures drove this apparently happily married Tory MP and father of two to risk his reputation by allegedly clambering naked into another woman’s bed and fondling her breasts after snorting ‘line after line’ of cocaine.

Above all, we may learn what possessed him to be photographed for an extraordinary and incriminating-looking picture, with eyes dazed, a tumbler of whisky at his elbow and what appears to be four lines of the Class A drug all neatly arranged on an upturned baking tray.

Last night, Westminster was abuzz with rumours about the significance of the damning photograph and of his curiously cryptic response to the claims of drug abuse and sexual misconduct, for which he said he had an ‘enormous amount of defence’.

Although regarded as something of a loner in the House of Commons – he hadn’t spoken in a debate since January – recent sightings of Warburton had provoked comment. He had taken to appearing on the Commons terrace in a leather bomber jacket and jeans, working out in the gym and posting selfies proudly showing off an athletic figure after losing eight stone.

One day, perhaps, we will know everything about the David Warburton affair. We may come to understand what private pressures drove this apparently happily married Tory MP and father of two to risk his reputation by allegedly clambering naked into another woman’s bed and fondling her breasts after snorting ‘line after line’ of cocaine

One day, perhaps, we will know everything about the David Warburton affair. We may come to understand what private pressures drove this apparently happily married Tory MP and father of two to risk his reputation by allegedly clambering naked into another woman’s bed and fondling her breasts after snorting ‘line after line’ of cocaine

On the surface, the accusations against the MP, who secured one of the country’s biggest swings to the Conservatives when he entered Parliament for the Somerset constituency of Somerton and Frome in 2015, seemed to represent a depressing return to the sleaze that engulfed the John Major government of the 1990s.

Two women who worked in Warburton’s office submitted formal complaints about his inappropriate behaviour. One said he had coerced her into returning to his central London flat where he kissed, caressed and groped her, touching her bottom and thigh on separate occasions.

The second claimed he had caressed her and physically prevented her from leaving the flat, propelling her towards his bedroom.

In many ways, his actions represent the entitled and unacceptable face of the political class – voters find this repellent – and of the power that MPs can wield over the opposite sex.

So far, so tawdry. But it is the unanswered questions surrounding the emergence of the photograph and audio recordings in which he is heard asking a woman to order cocaine on his behalf – telling her he would pay for it and WhatsApp messages – that threatened to recast this sordid saga from that of an unsavoury mid-life crisis to something altogether more sinister.

Yesterday, the Mail on Sunday reported that Tory party managers were investigating a potential link between the allegations coming to light and the activities of a foreign Communist party. Last night, however, Whitehall sources were playing down such speculation.

Nonetheless, the security services have been warning MPs to be alert to hostile intelligence agencies attempting to entrap them. 

The war in Ukraine, which has seen relations between Britain and Russia plunge to a new low, has heightened such concerns. Only two months ago, Ken McCallum, the head of MI5, warned that both Russia and China were desperate to get a foothold at Westminster by targeting MPs and their staff.

A senior figure in the Tory party told the Mail that Warburton appeared to have been the victim of some kind of stitch-up. 

‘We are working on the view that the Russians, indirectly, may have a hand in it,’ this individual told us. One possibly significant detail being pored over last night was that of the bank card, visible on the edge of the photograph and which had presumably been used to ‘cut’ the cocaine into lines. It appeared to be from the DBS bank of Singapore.

Who took the photograph – and why – remains crucial. In it, the MP does not stare directly into the lens. Investigators will want to know if he was even aware the picture was being taken, because by any stretch of the imagination the snap could have huge consequences.

Posing alongside a quantity of Class A drugs – if that is what they are – could not only wreck his career but also see him arrested by police.

In the fallout from the scandal, what emerged yesterday was a family in turmoil and a once-promising political career in ruins.

The MP, whose children are teenagers, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital with ‘severe shock and stress’.

If there was any consolation, Warburton’s wife of 20 years, Harriet, was standing by him. A diplomat’s daughter, she runs her husband’s office,

In many ways his actions represent the entitled and unacceptable face of the political class – voters find this repellent – and of the power that MPs can wield over the opposite sex

In many ways his actions represent the entitled and unacceptable face of the political class – voters find this repellent – and of the power that MPs can wield over the opposite sex

Her brother Jonathan Baker-Bates said his sister and her husband were ‘absolutely standing by each other’.

Somehow, if any politician was going to end up in a mess like this, it was David Warburton. A self-made millionaire, he ended his maiden speech in the Commons quoting the Victorian constitutionalist Walter Bagehot, saying: ‘The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.’

Even if this was an indication of trouble to come, the fact is that grammar school-educated Warburton’s behaviour had evaded the intelligence of the Whips’ office intelligence network.

‘The Whips usually know about the peccadilloes of their errant MPs,’ said a source. ‘I’m pretty sure Warburton never flashed up on the internal intelligence system.’

To add to the Whips’ discomfort were reports of a second misconduct probe into a mysterious £100,000 loan from a billionaire Russian businessman.

It was not known what the sum was for but the man who lent him the money, Roman Joukovski, is a specialist in off-shore tax advice and an expert in helping the super-rich secure tier-one ‘golden’ investor visas to the UK.

Who would have predicted this when Warburton was first elected an MP seven years ago, with a majority of more than 20,000?








He was seen as an ideal ambassador for David Cameron’s Conservatives: Moderate, a family man and a former teacher who made his money with a company providing downloadable music to mobile phones before moving into property.

In his constituency, he joined litter-picking appeals and volunteered as an organist in his local parish church.

On drugs he had also set out his views when he condemned the ‘appalling’ exploitation of young people caught up in the so-called county lines gangs and calling for international action in ‘tackling the drugs trade.’

Whatever the moral ambiguities of his story, those words now reek of hypocrisy.

According to the Sunday Times, a third woman, who did not work at Westminster but met Warburton through politics, said he had asked her to order cocaine and snorted ‘line after line’. The MP reportedly said the sum was not expensive – using the slang ‘spenny’ – and was ‘quite good actually’. 

He said he would repay her £160 for buying two grams.

One day we may learn what possessed him to be photographed for an extraordinary and incriminating-looking picture, with eyes dazed, a tumbler of whisky at his elbow and what appears to be four lines of the Class A drug all neatly arranged on an upturned baking tray

One day we may learn what possessed him to be photographed for an extraordinary and incriminating-looking picture, with eyes dazed, a tumbler of whisky at his elbow and what appears to be four lines of the Class A drug all neatly arranged on an upturned baking tray

Warburton and the woman had met through work and, according to her, he invited himself to her flat despite there being evidence that she had had too much to drink.

As she sobered up, she grew uncomfortable that the two were alone together and she went into her bedroom to change into her pyjamas, hoping it would encourage him to leave. She thought this would give him the hint and show she was not interested in him.

Instead, she claims, he then stripped naked and climbed into her bed explaining that he always slept without clothes on.

The newspaper said that despite repeated and explicit warning that she did not want to have sex with him, Warburton allegedly ground his body against hers and groped her breasts. She said she lay ‘frozen to the spot’ until he fell asleep.

The following morning, she claims he asked if she was ‘proud’ that an MP had slept at her home. After he had gone she had a long shower having felt ashamed and violated.

Later that day he is alleged to have sent her a WhatsApp message asking if she was available and stating: ‘Promise I won’t remove all my clothes again’. The pair have not met since the incident on February 1.

The woman is yet to make a complaint to the police or any other investigating authority. She said Warburton was a powerful man and she would not have known what course of action to take. She was also reported to have said that she wanted to forget the episode.

But two female aides to the MP have decided to take action against him through the Independent Complaints and Grievances Scheme. They say they could not make a complaint through his parliamentary office as HR issues are handled by his wife.

If there was any consolation, Warburton’s wife of 20 years, Harriet (left), was standing by him. A diplomat’s daughter, she runs her husband’s office

If there was any consolation, Warburton’s wife of 20 years, Harriet (left), was standing by him. A diplomat’s daughter, she runs her husband’s office

Both women accuse Warburton of unwanted sexual comments and sexual touching and say that he boasted about his consumption of cocaine, which he kept at his taxpayer-funded flat across the river from the Houses of Parliament.

They claim he started behaving inappropriately both in parliament at late night events in and around Westminster.

He is said to have told one of the young women that he would have slept with her had they been the same age, calling her ‘baby’.

At the British Kebab Awards, an alcohol-fuelled event attended by 150 MPs and members of the House of Lords, he allegedly groped her thigh, an incident witnessed by a third party.

The reports into his conduct have coincided with Britain’s security services warning MPs to beware of foreign intelligence agencies attempting to entrap them. Fears of spies launching such operations have been heightened by the brutal war in Ukraine, which has plunged relations between the UK and Russia to their lowest ebb since the Cold War

The reports into his conduct have coincided with Britain’s security services warning MPs to beware of foreign intelligence agencies attempting to entrap them. Fears of spies launching such operations have been heightened by the brutal war in Ukraine, which has plunged relations between the UK and Russia to their lowest ebb since the Cold War

Some senior figures in Westminster are quietly saying that something does not add up. ‘The whole thing stinks,’ one said last night. ‘Why is there an audio recording?’

Some senior figures in Westminster are quietly saying that something does not add up. ‘The whole thing stinks,’ one said last night. ‘Why is there an audio recording?’

Both women claim he pressured them to drink more alcohol than they were comfortable with and coerced them into returning to his flat. One said he kissed her forehead, stroked her hair, placed his hand on her thigh and repeatedly rubbed it.

The other woman said he had caressed her and refused to let her leave his home when she wanted to leave.

Political friends say they noticed changes to Warburton during the Covid pandemic when he spent time away from the family home at his flat in the old County Hall building. In January last year, he posted a photograph revealing he had lost eight stone by lifting weights and cutting out carbohydrates.

Some say this was the trigger for his more reckless behaviour. He is reported to have started sending suggestive texts last year to the younger woman who did not work for him.








He references his cocaine use, too. ‘Yep have some cheeky coke obvs,’ he wrote in one message last November.

Last month he texted her saying: ‘Does your dealer do Westminster Bridge area?’, adding: ‘Have just been put on a one line whip‘ – meaning he did not need to vote that day. ‘So your happy Monday has made me want to call my dealer….but he takes aeons.’

With just a month before local elections, party managers despaired. A Cabinet source said: ‘He’s been naive, stupid and reckless. What MP agrees to a photo next to four lines of cocaine? Unless he was set up. But even that doesn’t excuse such crass behaviour.’

It may however suggest there is more to this murky business than mere stupidity.