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Thu, 3 December 2020

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Tories ‘minimising violence against women’ by letting rape suspect MP keep party whip, charities and unions say

Tories ‘minimising violence against women’ by letting rape suspect MP keep party whip, charities and unions say

The coalition of unions and charities said: ‘The House of Commons should be no different from any other workplace’. (PA)

2 min read

The Conservative Party is “minimising violence against women and girls” by refusing to remove the whip from an MP arrested on suspicion of rape, a coalition of charities and trade unions have warned.

A man in his 50s was arrested at the weekend on suspicion of raping a former parliamentary aide — but the party has said it will not suspend him while the police investigation is ongoing.

He has been bailed until a date in mid-August, with chief whip Mark Spencer on Monday saying the party took the allegations “very seriously”.

But a joint statement from the TUC, the Fawcett Society, Women’s Aid, the Centenary Action Group and parliamentary unions Prospect, Unite, PCS and the FDA calls for the MP “to be suspended pending a full investigation”.

They say: “The House of Commons should be no different from any other workplace. 

“Safety and the safeguarding of staff must be paramount. Failure to suspend is yet another example of minimising violence against women and girls and failure to believe victims and survivors when they bravely speak out.”

The joint statement came as The Telegraph reported that the woman at the centre of the claims was told the chief whip had arranged “pastoral care” for the accused MP.

The former researcher told friends she had spoken to Mr Spencer after contacting the Members and Peers’ Staff Association, which represents parliamentary workers.

But she says she was later informed that Mr Spencer had checked that the MP was receiving support while she was “offered nothing”.

A source close to Mr Spencer disputed that version of events, saying it did not “tally” with his records.

The chief whip said on Monday: “I think it is down to the police to do that thorough investigation, not for the Whips’ Office to investigate this alleged crime. It is for the police and the authorities to do that.”

The Times reported last week that the woman had first raised the allegations with the chief whip in April.

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