Boris Johnson did not remember being told about Chris Pincher allegation in 2019, minister says – UK politics live

Johnson did not remember being told about Pincher misconduct allegation in 2019, minister claims

Michael Ellis is responding to Rayner.

He says Chris Pincher is being investigated. And he says this complaint may be investigated by the police. The sub judice rule should apply, he says.

I ask the house to accept that bearing in mind the member in question [Chris Pincher] had been reappointed to government by a previous prime minister in 2018, and then that he’d been appointed in 2019 as a Foreign Office minister and then, crucially, he was appointed for a third time in February, I doubt whether anyone could in knowledge of those facts say that this prime minister should have acted otherwise than he did.

It is the morally fair thing to do in any case to assess the situation based on evidence, not unsubstantiated rumour. It is incumbent on all of us in this House, as it is in society generally, to act fairly.

If there is no evidence at the time, if there is no live complaint, no ongoing investigation, surely it is not unreasonable to consider making an appointment.

He says in October 2019 officials raised concerns with Simon McDonald, permanent secretary at the Foreign Office. There was an inquiry that reported to McDonald. The exercise reported in due course.

The exercise established that while the minister meant no harm, what had occurred caused a high level of discomfort.

The minister apologised and those who complained accepted this, Ellis says. The PM was made aware of this. He was told that the permanent secretary had taken the necessary action. And so there was no question of Pincher having to leave the government.

Ellis goes on:

Last week, when fresh allegations arose, the prime minister did not immediately recall the conversation in late 2019 about this incident.

As soon as he was reminded, the No 10 press office corrected their public lines.

Key events:


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