Johnson faces backlash for ‘failure to act’ over Chris Pincher warnings | Sexual


Boris Johnson is facing a backlash over the promotion of his ally Chris Pincher, as a group of Conservative parliamentary staffers accused the prime minister of a “failure to act on warnings” of sexual misconduct by his MPs.

As new claims emerged about Pincher, who resigned as deputy chief whip over allegations that he groped two men in a London club, No 10 continued to insist that Johnson was unaware of any “specific” warnings until last week.

But a whips’ office source acknowledged on Sunday that a “matter” relating to Pincher had in fact been reported to them during the February reshuffle. The source had previously denied receiving any complaints or warnings – formal or informal – about his conduct.

Johnson is likely to face questions in parliament this week about what he knew about allegations concerning Pincher, after five further reports of alleged misconduct emerged over the weekend, including groping Tory MPs. Pincher denies all the allegations against him.

The warning to the whips’ office in February is believed to have come from a Conservative MP who was the subject of an unwanted pass from Pincher. A second MP told the Guardian they had raised allegations of sexual misconduct by Pincher with their whip, but without making a formal complaint because they were not personally a victim.

He said he had told the whips office in February that Pincher should not be in the job because he could not be trusted with young male staff. “I told a whip what I thought of Pincher, and that he had a terrible reputation with younger staff and MPs which had not gone away. That still stands.”

The MP said they had not made a specific allegation, because that would have resulted in a full-blown inquiry and he could not guarantee that accusers would come forward.

“I would not have wanted to have done that without a victim’s express permission. But I wanted them to know that there were claims out there.”

A third MP said they had warned senior figures in the party that “Pincher should not be anywhere near the whips office,” let alone in the deputy role that conferred responsibility for welfare of MPs as well as discipline.

There were also reports that Steve Barclay, Johnson’s chief of staff, tried to block Pincher’s appointment and asked for an investigation by the Cabinet Office’s propriety and ethics team.

A group of parliamentary aides, called Conservative Staffers for Change, who previously wrote to Johnson with their general concerns about sexual misconduct in Westminster, said on Sunday that the stories now coming out about Pincher “come as no surprise”.

“His behaviour was an open secret in Westminster and it is disappointing that this was not addressed sooner,” they said.

“Having raised concerns about sexual misconduct with the chief whip, we were disappointed not only by how long it took to remove the whip from Pincher, but also at the continued lack of clarity about the PM’s knowledge of his behaviour.

“We wrote the letter to the PM raising concerns about illegal sexual misconduct [by those in power abusing their positions] in May, yet received no response. This is about more than just the culture in…



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