Those Whips’ Patsies in Full

Last night deputy chief whip Chris Pincher sent this round robin text to a number of Tory MPs begging them to tweet in support of the Prime Minister:

A selection of the least subtle whips’ patsies:

Like footballers being asked to tweet out an advertiser’s campaign, then giving the game away…

Chris Pincher and Stephen Crabb Cleared

Attempting to untuck the shirt of a Olympic rower is not a breach of the Tory code of conduct:

“Following media allegations, Chris Pincher referred himself to our Code of Conduct. Following an investigation, a panel headed by an independent QC considered the evidence and has concluded there has not been a breach of the Code of Conduct.”

Tories getting all these out over the Christmas news lull…

UPDATE: Stephen Crabb also off the hook. A Conservative Party spokesman said:

“Following an investigation, a panel headed by an independent QC has concluded that Mr. Crabb’s behaviour did not constitute harassment. However, it found that his behaviour in this matter was inappropriate and fell short of the standards the Party expects.

“The Party Chairman has reminded Mr. Crabb of the need to adhere to the spirit and letter of the Code of Conduct at all times. He accepted this unreservedly and has made a full apology.”

Where Are the Dirty Dozen’s Promised Reports, Investigations and Decisions?

The Brexit noise is helpfully letting both the government and the Labour Party sit on the promised reports, investigations and decisions which followed the recent string of Westminster scandals. Here’s Guido’s run-down of the unfinished business from the past few weeks (and earlier)…

Jared O’Mara: Jared hasn’t been seen in Westminster since the scandal around him erupted in October and he hasn’t voted in the months since. He – or more likely, his whip – is submitting a number of very general written questions and signing the odd EDM to give the impression things are still ticking over. Jared is still under investigation after losing the Labour whip. He’s been off for weeks…

Keith Vaz: An investigation into Vaz by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner is somehow still ongoing after a complaint was made about his rent boys and coke binge in September 2016 (Kathryn Hudson better hurry-up, she’s due to step-down by the end of this year). Vaz hasn’t voted since 18 October, though he did speak in the House last week. He is currently rumoured to be on a trip to the Middle East…

Damian Green: Westminster was on tenterhooks awaiting the release of Sue Gray’s report last week, but it didn’t materialise. It was rumoured to be on the agenda again yesterday but failed to appear. Putting off the inevitable seems to be distracting Damian from his job liaising with the DUP…

Mark Garnier: Remains under Cabinet Office investigation after the Mail on Sunday reported allegations in October that he sent an aide to buy sex toys and called her “sugar tits“. What on earth are they doing, interrogating the sex shop owner?

Kelvin Hopkins: Former Shadow Culture Secretary Kelvin Hopkins lost the Labour whip in November. The party is still investigating a complaint that Hopkins sent inappropriate text messages and made inappropriate physical contact at a student event in 2014. He is voting in line with Labour but hasn’t spoken since 25 October. No update from Labour…

Ivan LewisLabour is still investigating a complaint against Lewis, who denied allegations of sexual harassment after a woman said he touched her leg and invited her to his house when she was 19. He hasn’t voted since 31 October or spoken in the chamber since 25 October. No update…

Dan Poulter: MPs say they haven’t seen Dr Dan around Westminster since the Sunday Times reported allegations against him on 5 November. His office told the BBC he’s “on sick leave”. He last voted on 31 October and hasn’t spoken in the chamber since 11 July. The new Conservative Party disciplinary committee is yet to report its findings… 

Charlie Elphicke: Elphicke’s friends say is still unaware of what allegations have been made against him. He was told in November that allegations had been passed to the police, but there has been no news of any action. In the meantime, Elphicke is still without the whip. The chairman of his association recently backed him…

Stephen CrabbThe former Welsh Secretary is still under investigation by the Conservative Party for allegedly sexting a 19-year-old who applied for a job in his office in 2013. No update…

Chris Pincher: He resigned as a government whip after allegations in the Mail on Sunday that he had un-tucked the shirt of a male Tory. Pincher referred himself to the police. No news as to the outcome…

Daniel KawczynskiReferred to the Tories new disciplinary committee in November following allegations that he pressured a young researcher to go on a date with a businessman ‘older than her father’. Nothing heard yet…

Jack LoprestiA former staff member complained about Lopresti’s behaviour and a probe was launched last week. The complaint came via the Tories’ new code of conduct hotline…

What do Sue Gray, Kathryn Hudson and the Tory and Labour party internal inquiries get up to all day?

Pincher Quits as Whip

Chris Pincher has tonight quit as a government whip and referred himself to both the Conservative Party’s complaints procedure and the police. It follows the Mail on Sunday’s front page story: “Top Tory’s Bathrobe Pass at Male Aide”. A Downing Street spokesman said:

“After several conversations with the Chief Whip, in order to address a number of questions Mr. Pincher has voluntarily referred himself both to the Party’s complaints procedure and the Police, and has voluntarily stood down from the Whips Office in the meantime.”

More swift action from Julian Smith…

Sunday Sleaze Round-Up

The much-anticipated Sunday front pages make grim reading for the government. Theresa May’s de facto deputy Damian Green is tonight accused of having “extreme porn” found on one of his parliamentary computers. The Sunday Times says the discovery was made by cops when they raided Green’s office in 2008. Former Met Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick confirmed to the paper that his officers had found the material. Green tweeted a statement calling the claims “false, disreputable political smears” and says he was not informed of any porn being found. 

The paper counters that it has spoken to a police source other than Quick who also claims to have seen the porn. The splash reveals Quick will give evidence on Monday to Whitehall ethics supremo Sue Gray, who is leading the probe into Green. Kate Maltby, who tells The Sunday Times she knows difference between a hand and a tablecloth. will also give evidence and gives a sit down interview to the paper. Can Green cling on much longer?

Also in the Sunday Times, Tory MP Andrew Bridgen goes on the record saying he reported concerns about the behaviour of fellow backbencher Dan Poulter to the whips in 2010 – but claims he was ignored. Bridgen says he informed whips of comments made by female colleagues alleging Poulter put his hand up skirts. Bridgen has now reported Poulter using the new complaints procedure and an investigation is underway by the new disciplinary committee. Poulter denies the allegations.

Meanwhile, senior government whip Chris Pincher is under pressure as the Mail on Sunday splashes with the headline: Top Tory’s Bathrobe Pass At Male Aide“. Pincher is accused of trying to untuck the shirt of former Olympic rower and Tory aide Alex Story after taking him back to his London home. Story calls the MP “a pound shop Harvey Weinstein”. The story also references a widely heard rumour about Pincher trying it on with one-term Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop about which he refuses to commentDifficult to see how Pincher can remain a whip…

The Sunday Telegraph also turns fire on the whips office, reporting that concerns about the behaviour of both Fallon and Charlie Elphicke – who last night had the whip suspended – were raised repeatedly. Expect there to be considerable discussion about the propriety of the whips system. Tough first week for Julian Smith…

The Observer reveals Michael Fallon’s resignation was forced by journalist Jane Merrick. She says she told Number 10 at 5pm on Wednesday afternoon that the former Defence Secretary tried to kiss her when she was a 29-year-old reporter. It was the last straw for May…

The Sun on Sunday and Sunday People report allegations that an unnamed Tory MP sexually assaulted a Labour MP in a taxi. It’s alleged a date rape drug was used…

Earlier this evening Channel 4 News broadcast allegations that Tory backbencher Daniel Kawczynski asked a young female researcher to go on a date with a business contact. Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing says she loudly reprimanded Kawczynski for his request during a confrontation in one of the division lobbies. Kawczynski says he did ask a researcher to have coffee with a contact but denies a business deal was involved…

A huge spread of Sunday sleaze for the Tories to deal with tomorrow. Heads must surely roll… 



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