Boris Johnson has been criticised for failing to suspend a Tory MP who has been accused of rape.
Labour frontbencher Jess Phillips MP said it was ‘shocking’ that the whip had not been withdrawn from the former minister and Tory MP.
The politician, who is in his fifties and has not been named, was arrested and questioned on Saturday after a woman in her twenties went to the police to complain of rape, sexual assault, and coercive control.
He has been released on bail until mid-August as the authorities investigate the allegations.
Scotland Yard said the allegations against the MP are said to have taken place ‘at addresses in Westminster, Lambeth and Hackney between July 2019 and January 2020’.
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National newspapers report that the allegations come from a female parliamentary researcher who had been in a relationship with the MP, and were said to have been raised with the chief whip Mark Spencer and leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Spencer is said to have advised the complainant to parliament’s independent complaints and grievance scheme.
Criticising the lack of action from the Tories, saying it sent a ‘terrible message’ that the MP had secured ‘protection’ in Westminster.
She added: ‘In any other organisation, were this investigation to be going on, this police investigation, somebody would be suspended while the investigation was taking place.
‘I find it shocking this morning, the news that the Conservative Party have decided not to withdraw the whip in this case.’
Lib Dem leadership contender Layla Moran said that the Tory whips office should ‘think again’ about waiting until the police investigation is concluded.
‘Given the seriousness of these allegations and that a suspension, in a workplace or anywhere else, is actually a neutral act… I would urge [the Conservative whips’ office] to think again on that decision.
‘But more broadly I think we need to acknowledge the bravery of those who have come forward to make these allegations, to do that against an MP, it’s very, very difficult.’
A spokesperson for the Conservative whips’ office said: ‘These are serious allegations and it is right that they are investigated fully. The whip has not been suspended.
‘This decision will be reviewed once the police investigation has been concluded.’