Row grows over Tory MP suspected of rape: Man in his 50s told to stay away from House of Commons amid pressure to name him
- MP in his 50s, who has been released on bail, was told to not go to the Commons
- The politician can still meet constituents, vote on laws and attend parliament
- Labour called for man to be named and said he should have the whip removed
The storm over the Tory MP arrested on suspicion of rape was growing last night.
The man in his fifties, who has been released on bail, is being told to keep away from the Commons by party whips but faces no formal sanction.
It means the unidentified politician can still have meetings with constituents, vote on laws and attend parliament.
Yesterday, MPs were warned by the Commons Speaker not to name the suspect under rules that excuse remarks in the Commons from potential libel actions.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: ‘While the investigation is ongoing, I believe that it would be wholly inappropriate for any further reference to be made to it in the house, including any attempt to name the member concerned.’
Labour called for the man to be named and said he should have the whip removed, meaning he would no longer sit as a Tory MP.
Sir Keir Starmer’s spokesman said: ‘It’s a matter for the Conservative Party what they do, but our view is that, given the nature of the allegations, then the whip should be suspended and obviously at that point it would become public.’
Labour home office spokesman Jess Phillips said there was a ‘gap in the process’ at Westminster that favoured those accused of wrongdoing over the safeguarding of others.
The man in his fifties, who has been released on bail, is being told to keep away from the Commons (pictured the chamber on Wednesday packed during PMQs) by party whips but faces no formal sanction
It means the unidentified politician can still have meetings with constituents, vote on laws and attend parliament
She said constituents might feel they had a ‘right to know’ if the allegations concerned their MP.
Rita Dexter, a lay member of the Commons standards committee, said the situation was a ‘calamity’.
She added: ‘It’s all very well to ask him to stay away, but what about the many constituency venues where that is not applicable?’
Trade unions representing parliamentary workers also said the MP should be banned from entering the Palace of Westminster.
The GMB union said: ‘Staff safety must be the absolute priority and no chances should be taken.’
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was ‘very, very concerned’ that a Conservative colleague had been arrested but said it was up to police to decide whether he should be named.
She said that she did not know the suspect’s identity. She said the latest allegations showed the culture of the Commons needed to ‘change further’.
Yesterday, MPs were warned by the Commons Speaker not to name the suspect under rules that excuse remarks in the Commons from potential libel actions. Pictured: The PM Boris Johnson in parliament during PMQs on Wednesday
The MP was arrested over alleged offences in London between 2002 and 2009. They include rape, indecent assault, sexual assault, the abuse of a position of trust and misconduct in public office.
He has been released on bail pending further enquiries. Chris Heaton-Harris, the Government’s chief whip, has asked the MP in question to stay away from the Commons.
But whips believe that if they suspended him from the party whip, thereby naming him, it would endanger the anonymity of the alleged victim or victims.
Former Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan quit the Commons earlier this month after being convicted of sexually assaulting a boy.
David Warburton had the Tory whip withdrawn after allegations of sexual harassment and cocaine use. At the time he said he had ‘enormous amounts of defence’.
Neil Parish stood down as Tory MP for Tiverton and Honiton this month after admitting watching pornography in the Commons.