Tory MP Chris Pincher says he is seeking ‘professional medical support’ but hopes to return to his duties ‘as soon as possible’ after he was suspended from party over claims he drunkenly groped men at members’ club
The Tory MP who allegedly groped two men at a posh member’s club in London has said he is now seeking ‘professional medical support’ and ‘respects’ the Prime Minister’s decision to suspend him from the party.
Chris Pincher, 52, who resigned as deputy chief whip after saying he drank too much on Wednesday, has also said today he would ‘cooperate fully’ with an inquiry into his behaviour.
The action to suspend the Tory whip from Mr Pincher – which was being demanded by prominent backbenchers – has now been taken after a formal complaint about him was made to Parliament’s harassment watchdog.
The Tory MP for Tamworth previously admitted that he had ’embarrassed himself and other people’, after drinking too much at the elite Carlton Club in London.
Chris Pincher has been suspended as a Tory MP after a formal complaint was made to Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme
The 52-year-old resigned as Tory deputy chief whip last night, saying he had ’embarrassed himself and other people’, after drinking too much at the elite Carlton Club in London.
In a statement Mr Pincher said: ‘I respect the Prime Minister’s decision to suspend the whip whilst an inquiry is underway, and I will cooperate fully with it.
‘As I told the Prime Minister, I drank far too much on Wednesday night, embarrassing myself and others and I am truly sorry for the upset I caused.
‘The stresses of the last few days, coming on top of those over the last several months, have made me accept that I will benefit from professional medical support.
‘I am in the process of seeking that now, and I hope to be able to return to my constituency duties as soon as possible.’
Boris Johnson had been told to strip the Tamworth MP of the Tory whip as it emerged he was handed the key role enforcing party discipline in February despite allegations about his own lack of self control
Former ministers Caroline Nokes and Karen Bradley, who both now chair Commons select committees, said the party had to display a ‘zero tolerance policy’ on sexual misconduct
The two senior female Tories today wrote to Mr Johnson demanding Pincher have the whip removed pending an investigation
A spokeswoman for Conservative chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris said: ‘Having heard that a formal complaint has been made to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, the Prime Minister 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.’
It was also announced last night that Mr Pincher has been replaced as Tory deputy chief whip, the role he resigned yesterday, by former junior housing minister Kelly Tolhurst.
A Downing Street source revealed Boris Johnson today spoke to a Tory MP who was with one of the men allegedly groped by Mr Pincher.
‘The account given was sufficiently disturbing to make the Prime Minister feel more troubled by all this,’ the source said.
Mr Johnson was said to have been waiting for a formal investigation to begin before suspending the Tory whip from Mr Pincher.
A No10 spokesman earlier yesterday suggested that, with Mr Pincher’s resignation as deputy chief whip, the PM considered the matter closed.
But two of the party’s most senior female backbenchers demanded Mr Johnson take more robust action as further allegations against the MP emerged.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner tonight claimed Mr Johnson had been ‘dragged kicking and screaming into taking any action at all’ over Mr Pincher.
‘He just can’t be trusted to do the right thing,’ she said of the PM.
‘This whole scandal is yet more evidence of his appalling judgement. It’s time for Conservative MPs to show this chaotic PM the door before he can do any more damage.’
Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: ‘It should never have taken Boris Johnson this long to act and withdraw the whip.
‘Once again it seems Johnson has had to be forced into doing the right thing.
‘There can be no more cover ups or excuses. If this investigation confirms these serious allegations, Chris Pincher will surely have to resign.’
Tory former ministers Caroline Nokes and Karen Bradley, who both now chair select committees, today said the Conservative Party had to display a ‘zero tolerance policy’ on sexual misconduct and demanded Mr Pincher be stripped of the whip.
Other critics pointed out that Neil Parish had resigned as Tiverton and Honiton MP for watching porn in the Commons – something less than an alleged sexual assault.
That resulted in the by-election last week where the Lib Dems overturned a Tory majority of more than 24,000 to take the seat.
Mr Pincher’s majority in Staffordshire is 20,000, but the seat was held by Labour for 13 years before he was elected in 2010.
Mr Pincher’s majority in his Staffordshire constituency is 20,000, but the seat was held by Labour for 13 years before he was elected in 2010.
Pictured: The incident took place in the exclusive Carlton Club in London
Mr Parish was also among those demanding tougher action yesterday, telling LBC: ‘The first thing they did to me, and I made a huge mistake, is that they withdrew the whip. There cannot be double standards.’
Asked whether Mr Johnson believed the issue was done and dusted, a No 10 spokesman told reporters earlier today: ‘He’s (Mr Pincher) resigned that position so I’m not aware of any sort of Government investigation.’
He added that whether to remain an MP was ‘a matter for him (Mr Pincher) as an individual.’
But in their letter, Ms Nokes and Ms Bradley said: ‘The party and, by extension, the Government are at risk of serious reputational damage by the current approach.’
One MP who was at the event at the Carlton Club on Wednesday claimed to the Guardian that Mr Pincher had been so drunk ‘he could barely stand up’.
It also emerged he was handed the key role of enforcing party discipline in February, despite allegations about his own lack of self-control.
Mr Pincher apologised publicly and resigned as a whip before in 2017 after being accused by a Tory candidate of making an unwanted pass at him.
And Politco today identified Mr Pincher as the Tory MP said to have required a ‘minder’ to accompany him to events to keep him out of trouble, something denied by the Conservatives.