Boris Johnson had been told of a complaint against Conservative MP Chris Pincher just over two years before promoting him, a minister said, in a major concession from the government after days of speculation about what the UK prime minister knew and when.
Concerns were raised about Pincher in October 2019 when he was a minister in the foreign office, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Ellis told the House of Commons on Tuesday. An internal probe concluded that “while the minister meant no harm, what had occurred caused a high level of discomfort,” he said, adding that Pincher then apologized and Johnson was made aware in late 2019.
“Last week when fresh allegations arose, the Prime Minister did not immediately recall the conversation in late 2019 about this incident,” Ellis told the House of Commons, in response to an urgent question lodged by the opposition Labour Party. “As soon as he was reminded, the No 10 press office corrected their public lines.”
Tory Sleaze Saga Rumbles On With New Claims of Johnson Knowledge
The revelation that Johnson knew of the past probe into Pincher raises questions about his judgment in promoting the MP earlier this year, and adds to pressure on the prime minister just over a month after he narrowly survived a confidence vote of his own Tory MPs.
Pincher resigned last week as one of Johnson’s political enforcers in the wake of Sun newspaper allegations he groped two fellow guests at a private club. Pincher quit a similar role in 2017 amid allegations he had made unwanted sexual advances on a former Olympic rower.
While Pincher has denied allegations of specific incidents, he said in his resignation letter last week that he’d “embarrassed” himself and “caused upset” to others. He and his office haven’t replied to repeated requests for comment made by Bloomberg since the latest allegations erupted last week.
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