Essex Police have opened a new investigation into Julian Knight for serious sexual assault. The case was referred to them by another force. In March the Metropolitan had closed a prior investigation into the MP, however it wasn’t long before the BBC reported on four fresh complaints. Essex Police said:
“We have agreed to take on an investigation which has been referred to us from the Metropolitan Police Service. We are investigating an allegation of serious sexual assault. Detectives who specialise in cases of this kind will gather evidence and conduct a thorough investigation.”
Knight still maintains his innocence…
With today’s announcement of Andrew Bridgen’s defection to Laurence Fox’s Reclaim Party, Guido took the opportunity to ask whether more might follow. Although Laurence demurred, Andrew Bridgen did hint at more potential defections:
“There are a lot of Conservative MPs who, for various reasons, have lost the whip or been deselected. I would ask you to take a look at the number of Conservative MPs that voted against plan B in December of 2021 and see what number of those are no longer in the party or have lost the whip or been deselected. That’s quite telling.”
Guido has listened to Bridgen’s advice and taken a look at the suspended Tories who voted against Plan B. It’s hardly an illustrious list:
There were 99 Conservatives in total voting against the measures, so there’s a wide pool of talent for Reclaim to target. The four above will have the least to lose by jumping ship…
Just when Julian Knight looked to be in the clear from his police investigation, as sure as Knight follows day, fresh sexual misconduct allegations have emerged. Last night, the BBC reported that at least four women have made complaints to parliamentary authorities – since the Metropolitan Police dropped their probe. The allegations are related to “inappropriate comments and behaviour”. On top of the five complaints lodged to the police, there are now nine separate allegations. Knight denies any wrongdoing.
To add insult to injury, Guido hears Knight has a new office mate. A parliamentary co-conspirator writes in to say that he is now sharing a PCH office with disgraced independent David Warburton, after his former neighbours (MP included) requested a move. Birds of a feather flock together…
UPDATE: A co-conspirator clarifies that Julian wasn’t moved offices – his neighbour was, following a complaint. After a disagreement, one of Julian’s staffers told his roommate to “F*** Off”…
Former Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee Chair Julian Knight has been cleared by the Metropolitan Police of the sexual assault allegation which saw him lose the Conservative whip in December. In a statement released this afternoon, Knight tore into the whips’ office for publicly naming him on the basis of “a single, false and malicious” claim which “meant my name was dragged through the mud and my good reputation immeasurably damaged”:
“The fact is that there was never anything for the police to investigate. This was a single, false and malicious allegation initially brought to them by third parties, each of whom had their own clear motives for doing so. In publicly naming me in connection with the allegation, the Conservative Whips Office acted disgracefully and in breach of natural justice by removing my anonymity. Their actions meant my name was dragged through the mud and my good reputation immeasurably damaged.
“The conduct of one person in the Whips Office, and the language used towards me, was particularly egregious. Had the police taken the simple step at outset of interviewing me under caution, they would have seen that the allegation was false and scandalous. Instead, they waited four months, without ever talking to me, before deciding there was nothing for them to investigate. I have been left effectively to prove my innocence through my public statements and letters to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and the Chief Whip. That cannot be right.
“It is now my intention to use every legal route available to pursue those inside and outside Parliament involved in having this allegation brought against me. Meanwhile I look forward to the immediate return of the Conservative Whip so that I can again represent my constituents on behalf of the Party, as a member of which, they elected me.”
Threatening to sue…
UPDATE: A spokesperson for Chief Whip Simon Hart says Knight will not have the whip restored because of “further complaints“…
“Following further complaints made to the Whips Office, we will not be restoring the Whip to Julian Knight. These complaints, if appropriate, will be referred to the relevant police force, or appropriate bodies.”
A spokesperson for the Government Chief Whip said:
“Following a complaint made to the Metropolitan Police this evening, we have removed the Whip from Julian Knight MP with immediate effect.”
UPDATE: Julian Knight responds, saying he has not heard anything from the police or the whips, though will recuse himself from parliament in the meantime:
“I have heard nothing from the police, the Whips Office or Parliament’s Internal Grievance Service, or been the subject of any investigation by the latter. Nor have I ever been warned or spoken to by the Whips office about any allegations of misconduct.
I believe their withdrawal of the whip is wrong and unjustified. Some months ago I accepted the resignation of a staff member following a full enquiry into his conduct regarding House of Commons security issues and, separately, allegations of bullying against him.
Subsequently, I have received what my lawyers advise are explicit threats involving blackmail as well as being at the centre of a campaign of rumour and innuendo. All matters are now with my lawyers and I will be recusing myself from Parliament until the matter is resolved.”
Julian Knight, chair of DCMS Select Committee on the Online Safety Bill:
“I’m supporting the Bill tonight because frankly, after five years, I’ve had enough.”