Three cabinet ministers are among 56 serving MPs who have been reported to a parliamentary watchdog over allegations of sexual misconduct.
Around 70 separate complaints – including at least one believed to involve criminality – have been referred to parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS), the Sunday Times reports.
Two shadow cabinet ministers are also among the 56 MPs with allegations ranging from sexually inappropriate comments to bribery “in return for sexual favours” by an MP to a member of staff.
The ICGS was set up in 2018 in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the ‘Pestminster’ scandal which saw parliamentarians facing a string of sleaze and sexual misconduct allegations, including Sir Michael Fallon and Charlie Elphicke.
In September 2019, Boris Johnson was accused of groping the thighs of two women seated either side of him at a lunch when he was editor of the Spectator magazine.
Allegations against 56 MPs follow recent Tory sex and drugs scandals
News of the allegations against the 56 MPs – none of whom have been identified – comes little more than a week after Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-boy in 2008. Another Tory MP, David Warburton had the whip removed after several allegations of sexual harassment and cocaine use emerged three weeks ago.
Commenting on the 56 MPs facing sexual misconduct claims Conservative party chairman Oliver Dowden said: “On the face of it, those look like concerning allegations.
“But I think you would expect that due process should happen and that the investigation should be conducted. I personally know absolutely nothing about it, and you wouldn’t expect me to, that would be a matter for House authorities.”
Dowden told today’s (April 24) Sky News’ Sophie Ridge on Sunday programme that he thinks Westminster is “a safe place to be a woman.”
A spokesperson for the government said it takes “all allegations of this nature incredibly seriously” and encouraged “anyone with any allegations to come forward to the relevant authorities.”
More needs to be done, says civil servants’ trade union
ICGS operates a hotline for staff of MPs and peers to report complaints and seek advice about bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct. Witnesses and those aware of such behaviour can also report to the hotline. In 2021, the ICGS’s annual report said its service had been used by people stating they were MPs.
Allegations are private and confidential and political parties at Westminster are not given any details about who has been reported.
Jo Willows, the director of the ICGS said in a message on its website that the scheme “is for all current and former members of the parliamentary community.
“It’s the first of its kind in any Parliament in the world and is an important step forward in tackling inappropriate behaviour in our workplace.”
Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA trade union for civil servants said more needs to be done to stamp out bad behaviour at Westminster.
Penman said: “Whilst some of the procedures for raising complaints have improved, the fundamental balance of power between MPs and the staff they employ has not.
“Where that exists it will inevitably be exploited, either by those who do not have the skills to manage staff effectively, or those with more malevolent intent.”
Rayner’s condemns ‘perverted’ Basic Instinct slur
The story comes with a freash furore sparked by remarks made by anonymous senior Conservative MPs about Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner.
Unnamed Tory MPs told the Mail on Sunday that Rayner deployed “a fully clothed parliamentary equivalent of Sharon Stone’s infamous scene in the 1992 film Basic Instinct”.
“She knows she can’t compete with Boris’s Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks. She has admitted as much when enjoying drinks with us on the [Commons] terrace,” said a Tory MP.
Rayner took to Twitter to declaim “the latest dose of gutter journalism courtesy of” the Mail on Sunday, and to condemn Boris Johnson’s “cheerleaders [who] have resorted to spreading desperate, perverted smears in their doomed attempts to save his skin.”