Boris Johnson ally Ross Thomson quits Parliament after Labour MP makes groping allegation
A close ally of Boris Johnson is standing down from Parliament after being accused of groping by a Labour MP.
Ross Thomson, who ran Mr Johnson's Tory leadership campaign in Scotland, said he had been the victim of "a political smear" and vowed to clear his name.
In a statement on Sunday afternoon, he said: "I always believed politics was about noble pursuits and doing what you believed to be best for your country.
"My experience is that our politics is now so poisonous that we will never attract good, honest and decent people in the first place.
"I have therefore made the most difficult decision that I could ever make. I have decided that I will stand down as the Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate for Aberdeen South."
Mr Thomson spoke out after Paul Sweeney, the Labour MP for Glasgow North East, told the Mail on Sunday that the Conservative backbencher had tried to put his hand down his trousers in Strangers Bar in the Commons.
He said: "I felt paralysed. It was just such a shocking thing. I was in a cold sweat. It was mortifiying. Nobody knew where to look at the table. It’s embarrassing. [I] couldn’t fight, so I took flight."
Mr Sweeney said he had reported the matter to parliamentary authorities in February after reading about separate allegations of "sexual touching" in the same bar were made against Mr Thomson.
At the time, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: "Officers attended and spoke to the parties involved - three men in their 20s and 30s. However, no formal allegations were made to the officers and no arrests were made."
Mr Thomson, who was elected to Parliament at the 2017 general election, referred himself to the Conservative Party's disciplinary panel, before going on to become a key part of Mr Johnson's leadership bid.
Elsewhere in his statement on Sunday, the MP said Mr Sweeney's allegations were "false and defamatory".
He said: "This is a political smear and I will continue to fight to clear my name. I will see this investigatory process through to a conclusion.
"Anonymous and malicious allegations this year have made my life a living hell. It has been nothing short of traumatic. I have suffered a level of personal abuse that has affected my health, my mental wellbeing and my staff. It has been a level of abuse that I never imagined possible."
Mr Thomson's resignation is a huge blow for the Tories' election campaign, and means they must now find a new candidate to try to defend his 4,752 majority.