Does Tory MP rape arrest herald more Pestminster claims?

Conservative Party bracing for further sexual misconduct allegations

Houses of Parliament
(Image credit: Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images)

The so-called Pestminster scandal is back in the headlines following the arrest of an unnamed Tory MP over rape and sexual assault claims spanning a seven-year period.

The Metropolitan Police said a man in his 50s was taken into custody over allegations of “indecent assault, sexual assault, rape, abuse of a position of trust and misconduct in a public office” in London between 2002 and 2009. He was been released on bail pending further inquiries by Scotland Yard, which launched an investigation after receiving a complaint about the MP in January 2020.

The government’s chief whip, Chris Heaton-Harris, has ordered the MP to stay away from Parliament until the police probe has concluded. But “whips believe that if they suspend the MP from the party whip, thereby naming him, it would endanger the anonymity of the alleged victim or victims”, according to The Times.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Pest-minster 2.0

The arrest has plunged the Conservative Party into “further turmoil over the ongoing Pestminster scandal that has rocked Westminster”, said Politico London Playbook’s Alex Wickham. The MP was reportedly detained just hours after Boris Johnson told his cabinet that he wanted to focus on “crime, crime, crime”.

And less than a month has passed since Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan was forced to resign after being convicted of molesting a 15-year-old boy. Fellow MP Neil Parish then stood down after admitting watching pornography in the Commons.

And a third Tory MP, David Warburton, has been suspended from the party following sexual harassment allegations.

More allegations

In another major potential blow to the party, an “upcoming television documentary on scandals in Westminster” is expected to claim that a “former Tory minister” is facing allegations of sexual misconduct “from a fellow MP”, according to The Mail on Sunday.

Channel 4’s Dispatches is set to reveal that a “cabinet minister is also facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with young staffers”, said the paper.

Parliamentary authorities are reportedly “worried about significant damage to trust in MPs” when the fresh wave of allegations “come to light this month, hot on the heels of recent scandals”.

A source said: “It erodes trust. It stops good people from wanting to join [Parliament].”

The Sunday Times reported last month that at least 56 MPs were under investigation over sexual misconduct claims reported to Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS).

The allegations range from “sexual harassment to more serious wrongdoing” said the paper.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.