‘Right to draw distinction!’ Raab insists Boris was not told about Pincher allegations
Dominic Raab insists Boris was not aware of Pincher claims
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Chris Pincher was investigated over a complaint about his conduct when he was a foreign office minister but it did not lead to any formal sanction, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has said. Mr Raab, who was Foreign Secretary at the time, said the Cabinet Office ethics and propriety team and the then chief whip Mark Spencer were informed in October 2019. However, he said that he did not believe there was any reason why Boris Johnson would have been told.
Asked what Mr Johnson knew, Mr Raab told Kay Burley “I’ve talked him through in recent days what happened in 2019.
“My sense is but I can’t speak for what the Prime Minister knew but my sense is he would have been aware when the wire was tripped into formal disciplinary action.
“But Westminster is awash with gossip and rumour and I think it is right to draw that distinction.”
The presenter interjected: “Talking about it in 2019 when you had to talk to him.
“Did you subsequently tell the Prime Minister about it?”
Mr Raab continued: “No. I wouldn’t expect to in relation to something that fell below the bar of disciplinary action.
“What I did do was inform the chief whip because I do think it’s important that we keep a proper record and I referred it to the Cabinet Office propriety and ethics team because I wanted the assurance.”
Mr Pincher plunged the Government into a new crisis when he dramatically quit last week over allegations he groped two men at a Conservative private members’ club.
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He had previously resigned from the whips’ office in 2017 over claims he made unwanted advances to a young activist, but was later reinstated after being cleared by an internal Conservative Party investigation.
Over the weekend, however, details emerged in the press of further claims about alleged sexual advances to men – including two fellow Conservative MPs – over a period of years.
Mr Pincher has denied the allegations to the newspapers which carried them.
However, Mr Johnson’s spokesman said the Prime Minister had been aware of the “speculation” there had been about Mr Pincher over a number of years when he made him deputy chief whip.
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Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said it was the PM’s job to create an environment “where people can come forward and feel supported”.
“And it’s Boris Johnson that is the problem and he should have done something about it,” she said at IPPR.
“And it’s not plausible to me to turn around and say: ‘Well, it was just a rumour’.
“It’s your job to go out and find out if there’s any truth to that rumour and create an environment where people can come forward and feel supported and feel that that something will be done about it, not that the perpetrator will be promoted.”
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