Tory MP Andrew Bridgen accused of sexual assault
Leicestershire MP denies woman’s allegation of assault after Westminster drinks
A Conservative MP was released by police on bail yesterday after being arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 29-year-old woman after an evening spent in a pub near the Houses of Parliament.
Andrew Bridgen, who represents North West Leicestershire, is a married man of 46. His accuser is variously reported as a former aide and/or an employee of parliament.
It is understood that the alleged incident occurred late on Wednesday after Bridgen, the woman and another man went to his Westminster flat for further drinks after leaving the pub. According to reports, a neighbour or member of staff at the apartment block called police after the woman, allegedly in tears, asked for help.
Bridgen lives at the flat during the week and returns home to his wife, Jackie, in Coleorton, Leicestershire at the weekends. The couple have been married since 2000 and have two children.
Last night, Jackie Bridgen, declined to comment. According to the Daily Telegraph, "There was intense speculation that the couple had separated."
Bridgen is a former Royal Marines officer who left the service to help run the family potato business, AP Produce. He first came to Parliament in the May 2010 election and is a relatively low-profile MP, better known in his constituency than in Westminster village. A local man told the Daily Mail: "He's known as the Potato Baron round here. He employs 200-odd people."
The Conservative Party has declined to comment on the alleged incident, saying only: "This is a matter for the police."
Bridgen is said to have strenuously denied any wrongdoing, and has not been charged with any offence. He has been bailed to return to meet the police in mid-July, to allow them time to make further inquiries.
There was some speculation overnight that his accuser might withdraw her allegation.