Anna Soubry calls on Theresa May to ‘take a lead’ on sex abuse scandal
Anna Soubry has called on the Prime Minister to “take a lead” on the sexual harassment scandal, as she attacked the “disgraceful” way it has been conducted so far.
The former minister called for the crisis to be handled “properly” rather than “behind the scenes” as she claimed there have been some “instance” of cover ups.
She urged Theresa May to go to the whips and ask them to tell her everything, as she said they know “all manner of allegations”.
Ms Soubry was speaking after a string of accusations against MPs. Michael Fallon resigned as Defence Secretary after a Westminster journalist Jane Merrick called Downing St and accused him of "lunging" at her and trying to kiss her on the lips.
Ms Merrick told Ms Soubry about the allegations before No 10, and the MP described the way the journalist had to go about making the claim as “outrageous”.
She told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “We can't have this going on any longer, we must have today, a system where they don't have to go to the press to make their complaint or find some MPs telephone number they know will take matters seriously.
"This is about protecting other men and notably women. There is nothing at the moment, the Prime Minister must lead on this and she must give assurance. People must be able now to make their complaints so we stop the sort of behaviour that Jane and others had to endure for years.
“The senior level of the whip’s office, they have known all manner of allegations and the time has now come where we have to draw a halt to this. All the stuff that they know must be given to the prime minister and her aides and we must do things properly.
“We must do this properly and not do this behind the scenes and in some instances, covering up, which is totally unacceptable but also when there are allegations, they go to the police or some other body, immediately so we don’t have people’s reputations being trashed in the newspapers.
“I think [Theresa May] should do two things. One she needs to say to the whip and the chief whip… I need to know everything and we are now going to handle things properly. Allegations to a criminal nature must go straight to the police, other matters must go into a thing that she must create immediately so that people like Jane don’t have to go around in the way I described.”
'TRIAL BY NEWSPAPER'
Elsewhere in the interview, Ms Soubry attacked the “trial by newspaper” nature of the scandal. She has previously called for Damian Green, the de-facto deputy prime minister, to be suspended while he was investigated for being inappropriate with historian Kate Maltby.
“First of all...what we're having in relation to Damian, who I said should have been suspended so there could be a proper inquiry... instead we are pretty much having trial by the newspapers and this is not acceptable .
“These are very serious allegations in relation to other people and it is all being blurred and conflated and it is a disgraceful way for us to conduct very, very serious allegations.”
Fellow Tory backbencher Heidi Allen also said Mr Green should stand aside while the investigation takes its course.
"If you’re innocent and you have nothing to worry about then let the process take its natural course and the right will come out in the end," she told ITV1's Peston on Sunday.