Boris Johnson was aware of some of the allegations that were made against a Conservative MP when he was made the party’s deputy chief whip, No 10 has revealed.
Pressure has been mounting on the Prime Minister regarding what exactly he knew of allegations of inappropriate behaviour made against Chris Pincher when he appointed him to the role in February.
Pincher, the MP for Tamworth in Staffordshire, quit as deputy chief whip on Friday after he was accused of drunkenly groping two men at a private members’ club in London.
Questions have now been asked over the handling of previous allegations made against Pincher and the decision-making process in appointing him to the role earlier this year.
The MP had already quit the whips’ office in 2017 after a complaint that he made an unwanted pass at former Olympic rower and Conservative candidate Alex Story.
Further allegations emerged as Pincher said that he was seeking “professional medical support” and that he hopes to return to representing his constituents “as soon as possible”.
On Monday, the questions were put to a spokesperson for Downing Street.
They told journalists that the Prime Minister was not aware of any specific allegations against Pincher when he was appointed as deputy chief whip.
But they admitted that Johnson was aware of “allegations that were either resolved or did not progress to a formal complaint”.
They said that it would have been “not appropriate” to have stopped his appointment as deputy chief whip in the absence of a formal complaint against Pincher.
Asked if the Prime Minister made any efforts to find out if allegations could be substantiated, the spokesperson said: “I can’t get into too much detail but he did take advice on some of the allegations that had been made.
“But there was no formal complaint at that time and it was deemed not appropriate to stop an appointment simply because of unsubstantiated allegations.”
The spokesperson said that advice would have come from political colleagues and the civil service.
“He was aware that there had been reports and speculation over the years with regards to this individual, but there were no specific allegation. There was no formal complaint at that time,” he added.
Asked if the Prime Minister regretted the appointment of Chris Pincher to the deputy chief whip role, the spokesperson said he was conscious this was subject to a formal investigation.
He added: “Clearly, we wouldn’t want anyone working in the Government to behave in the manner as he is alleged to have done so.
“That is not the behaviour that you’d want to see in any walk of life.”
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