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Senior Tory MP Accuses Government Of Kicking Porn MP Complaint "Into The Long Grass"

Senior Tory MP Accuses Government Of Kicking Porn MP Complaint 'Into The Long Grass'

(Alamy)

3 min read

Exclusive: Senior Tory MP Caroline Nokes has said she is “disappointed” that party whips had not already suspended an MP accused of watching pornography in the Commons chamber.

Nokes, chair of the women and equalities select committee, told this week's episode of PoliticsHome podcast The Rundown, that calls from the chief whip for the complaint to be referred to parliamentary authorities amounted to “kicking it into long grass”.

Two MPs reportedly made the claim during a meeting of the 2022 group of Tory MPs on Tuesday evening, which was attended by around 40 members of the party as well as chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris and party chair Oliver Dowden.

Nokes, who at the meeting, said she was “disappointed” that no action was taken swiftly against the accused MP the following day.

“I thought I would wake up on Wednesday morning to find somebody had had the whip withdrawn, and that didn't happen," she told PoliticsHome. 

“We've seen the whip withdrawn from colleagues for a variety of reasons over the years. I thought this seemed to be fairly straightforward. It was raised by one colleague, it was corroborated by another. That seems to me perfectly enough to withdraw the whip.”

Heaton-Harris has since recommended that the complaint should be referred to parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS), which was set up in 2018 in the wake of a series of reports of bullying, harrassment and sexual misconduct in Westminster.

Only the MPs who witnessed the alleged incident are able to submit a formal complaint via the ICGS. 

Nokes said the decision to refer the allegations to the ICGS showed the government was “kicking it into the long grass”, and warned it “could be months before anything is done” under the established complaints process.

“It's not shouldering the burden of responsibility of dealing with it, and I think the Chiefs should have dealt with it immediately.”

She also dismissed suggestions that the MP accused of looking at porn in the Commons, who has not been named, had accidentally opened an “unsolicited” link on his phone, insisting that the allegation from two female colleagues was “quite clear”.

“I've had a number of male journalists come up with a suggestion: ‘well, what if they just clicked on a link unsolicited and were shocked and appalled by what they saw, and flicked it off quickly'.” 

“I think the two colleagues that made reference to it in that meeting, were quite clear that the individual was watching porn. It wasn't that [they] opened an email and shut it down quickly. 

“The allegation that was made was that they were watching porn, not that they glanced at an inappropriate image, not that they opened an email. It was watching.”

Subscribe to The Rundown to listen to the full interview with Caroline Nokes on Thursday evening. 

 

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