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Downing Street finally admits PM was made aware of Chris Pincher’s groped claim ahead of promotion

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the Street owner has finally admitted that Boris Johnson was made aware of a sexual misconduct investigation involving Chris Pincher, directly contradicting earlier claims that the Prime Minister was unaware of specific allegations.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said Number 10 was “subsequently able to ensure that [Mr Johnson] was somehow informed” of the groping claims in 2019.

Previously, the Prime Minister’s team had insisted Mr Johnson was unaware of formal complaints made against the MP for Tamworth who resigned as Deputy Chief Whip last week following a allegations that he inappropriately touched two men at a private club.

This follows former senior civil servant Lord McDonald accusing Number 10 of lying in a bombshell letter on Tuesday morning.

In it, he said the Prime Minister was told in person about the inquiry into the disgraced MP in 2019, when Mr Pincher was Foreign Secretary.

He was promoted to the whips office in February.

When asked why No10 had originally been unaware of any specific allegations relating to Mr Pincher by the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: At that time, at the end of last week, [Mr Johnson] had not established that he had been informed of [the Foreign Office case] in 2019 and we were able to establish afterwards that he had received an update in some form on this.

When asked if Mr Johnson had lied, the spokesperson added: [Its] more a function of the fact that some of the facts around it took a while to establish.

“At the time last week, that was the view of the prime ministers. You will understand that it takes time to establish that he was informed, but not in an official meeting, about this and that is why we sought to take stock on Monday.

Chris Pincher (right) leaves Downing Street with Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris after their appointment in February (Aaron Chown/PA)

/ PA wire

It is important to remember that this goes back several years

Asked if the Prime Minister had forgotten, the spokesman said: I wouldn’t characterize it that way sometimes these issues that are raised, it takes time to establish the exact course of events.

Lord McDonald, who was Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office from 2015 to 2020, claimed the denial was not true.

In a letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, he said a group of people had made allegations about Mr Pinchers’ conduct similar to those made about his behavior at the Carlton Club when he was in the Foreign Office and added: In the summer of 2019 shortly after he was appointed Minister of State at the Foreign Office, a group of officials complained to me about the behavior of Mr Pinchers.

I have discussed the matter with the appropriate Cabinet Office official. An investigation confirmed the complaint; Mr. Pincher apologized and promised not to repeat the inappropriate behavior.

Lord McDonald added that Mr Pincher had not been exonerated by the inquest.

He also acknowledged that it was unusual for a former senior public servant to write to the Complaints Commissioner and publish the letter.

What I’ve seen and read in the past few days, I knew was wrong,” he told the BBC. “And you know, things get to a point where you have to do the right thing.

On Tuesday morning, Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary in 2019, insisted that Mr Johnson had not been informed of the investigation into Mr Pincher.

The Deputy Prime Minister added: Although there was inappropriate behavior, it did not trigger disciplinary action.

Mr Pincher resigned on Thursday over allegations he groped two men while intoxicated at the Carlton Club the night before.

The Tories have been criticized that it was not until Friday at 5 p.m. that the whip was taken away from them.

He previously resigned from the whips’ office in 2017 after allegedly making unwanted advances to a young campaigner, but was reinstated after being cleared by a party investigation.

Mr Pincher denied the allegations and said he was seeking professional medical assistance.

The storm over Mr Pincher is the latest sordid controversy to hit the Conservative Party. Neil Parish, the former MP for Tiverton and Honiton, quit Parliament in May after he was caught watching pornography on his phone in the Commons.

Imran Ahmad Khan was expelled from the Conservative Party and resigned, triggering a by-election in the Wakefield constituency, after being jailed for 18 months in May for groping a 15-year-old boy in 2008. Mr Khan maintains his innocence.

David Warburton, who represents Somerton and Frome, had the Tory whip removed in April after allegations of sexual harassment and cocaine use emerged.

Former Tory MP Rob Roberts was removed as Conservative Party Whip in June 2020 after an independent report revealed he had made repeated and unwanted sexual advances to a staff member.

And former Tory MP Charlie Elphicke was jailed for two years in September 2020 after being found guilty of three counts of sexual assault following a month-long trial.

Cabinet Minister Michael Ellis told MPs he had done some initial research and said he understood that in October 2019 officials raised concerns with the Permanent Secretary about Mr Pincher.

He told MPs: The Permanent Secretary commissioned fact-finding work, which was undertaken on his behalf by the Cabinet Office, this exercise was reported in due course to the then Permanent Secretary who agreed to it terms.

The exercise established that although the minister meant no harm, what happened caused a high level of discomfort. This is what the exercise established. The minister apologized and those who raised the issue accepted the resolution.

The Prime Minister was made aware of this file at the end of 2019, he was told that the permanent secretary had taken the necessary measures, so no issue arose to remain a minister.

Last week, when new allegations surfaced, the Prime Minister did not immediately recall the conversation in late 2019 about the incident. As soon as he was recalled, Press Office No. 10 corrected his public lines.

So the position is quite clear. Further inquiries will be carried out, but the position is that the Prime Minister acted with probity at all times.

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2/ https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/boris-johnson-foreign-office-cabinet-office-keir-starmer-prime-minister-b1010183.html

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