Chris Pincher: New claims emerge against former Tory MP

By Kathryn Snowdon & Paul Seddon
BBC News

Six new claims of inappropriate behaviour by former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher have emerged, days after he was suspended as a Tory MP after allegations he groped two men.
The fresh allegations stretch back over several years.
Mr Pincher – who represents Tamworth in Staffordshire – says he is seeking professional medical support and has no intention of resigning as an MP.
He did not respond to the BBC but denied the allegations to newspapers.
Mr Pincher, 52, quit as Tory deputy chief whip on Thursday after allegedly groping two men at the Carlton Club in London on Wednesday evening.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had appointed him to the role, which involves ensuring party discipline among Tory MPs, during a cabinet reshuffle in February.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told the BBC that Mr Johnson had not been aware of "specific allegations" against him at the time of the appointment.
She added she had not spoken to Mr Johnson herself, but had been given the assurance by "somebody from the No 10 press office".
Speaking to Sky News, she said the appointment "went through [a] vetting process like normal".
In fresh allegations this weekend, the Sunday Times reported Mr Pincher had placed his hand on the inner leg of a male Tory MP in a bar in Parliament in 2017.
The newspaper reported Mr Pincher also made unwanted advances towards a different male Tory MP in 2018 while in his parliamentary office, and towards a Tory activist in Tamworth around July 2019.
The Mail on Sunday carried allegations he had made advances against an individual a decade ago, and that a female Tory staffer had tried to prevent his advances towards a young man at a Conservative Party conference.
The Independent carried allegations from an unnamed male Conservative MP that Mr Pincher groped him on two separate occasions in December 2021 and June this year.
The Sunday Times reported that the MP involved in the alleged incident in 2018 contacted No 10 before Mr Pincher was made a whip in February, passing on details of what he said had happened to him and voicing his concerns about him being appointed to the role.
No 10 has not denied a claim by Mr Johnson's former chief aide, Dominic Cummings, that the PM referred to the former deputy chief whip as "Pincher by name, pincher by nature" before appointing him.
Downing Street's justification for appointing Chris Pincher seems to hang on the lack of a formal complaint.
It hasn't (so far) appeared to deny that Boris Johnson had any knowledge at all about some of the rumours surrounding him.
So, this will, in the end, come down to what his MPs make of that as a judgement call.
Was it right to stand by an ally when nothing had been formally proven?
Or should he have been more much more cautious when appointing someone who would, after all, be dealing with the welfare of other MPs?
It's worth noting that it is the prime minister who decides who to appoint to his government, so this was, ultimately, his call to make.
Meanwhile, Tory MP Craig Whittaker has denied suggestions in the Sunday Telegraph that he left his role in the whips' office in February in opposition to Mr Pincher's appointment, saying he stood down over health issues.
After Mr Pincher resigned as deputy chief whip, No 10 initially suggested that the prime minister considered the matter closed.
But Mr Pincher had the Conservative whip removed on Friday after being reported to Parliament's independent behaviour watchdog, meaning he will sit as an independent MP.
In a statement on Saturday, Mr Pincher said he had "drunk 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," Mr Pincher said in a statement.
"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."
He said he would "co-operate fully" with a parliamentary investigation into his conduct. It is understood he has agreed to stay away from Parliament during the inquiry.
Ms Coffey said Mr Johnson had taken "decisive action" to suspend Mr Pincher on Friday.
However, Labour's shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds told Sky the Conservatives had been motivated by "what is politically expedient over what is right".
Former Conservative Party chairman and home secretary Lord Baker said it is "unlikely" Boris Johnson is "the right man" to lead the party.
He told BBC Radio 4's World This Weekend the questions around the party's leadership had become "dominant" and party needed unity.
Complaints against MPs are examined by independent investigators, who can make recommendations for further action. If they decide to suspend or expel the MP, this would need to be voted on by MPs.
Mr Pincher previously stood down from the whips' office in 2017, when he was accused of making an unwanted pass at former Olympic rower and Conservative activist Alex Story.
But after an investigation by the party, he was cleared of any breach of its code of conduct.
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