Boris Johnson was not aware of “specific claims” of sexual misconduct against Chris Pincher before making him deputy chief whip, according to a cabinet minister.
Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey today said “I am aware that the Prime Minister was not aware of specific claims that had been made”, despite claims to the contrary.
Pincher resigned from his position as deputy chief whip on Thursday, after allegedly groping two men at the Carlton Club – a private members Conservative party club.
It has been claimed that Johnson was aware of similar past indiscretions, with former Number 10 aide Dominic Cummings saying that the Prime Minister once referred to the MP as “Pincher by name, pincher by nature”.
The Tamworth MP was also accused of groping a Labour MP in 2017, but was cleared by the Conservative party, and there have been multiple reports today of a string of similar allegations spanning back a decade.
When pushed by Sky News whether Johnson knew about these claims, Coffey said: “I don’t believe he was aware, that’s what I’ve been told today.”
Coffey said she was not “part of the general chatter, rumour mill discussions” in Westminster and was personally unaware of concerns about Pincher.
Pincher had the Tory whip suspended on Friday, after it was initially decided he would be able to remain in the party.
He is currently facing a parliamentary probe into his conduct.
There have been six new claims of sexual misconduct made against Pincher across several Sunday newspapers.
The Sunday Times reported that Pincher made unwanted sexual advances toward one unnamed Tory MP in 2018, who then told Number 10.
Labour shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “I think we’ve got to acknowledge what the consistent problem is and it is a Conservative party that repeatedly chooses to do what is politically expedient over what is right.
“It’s clear from what we know this morning that Chris Pincher should never have been put back into the whips’ office.”