In Brief

Tory MP to quit after ‘fondling’ claim by Labour MP

Ross Thomson accused of ‘sexual touching’ of multiple men

Scottish Conservative MP Ross Thomson is quitting Westminster amid allegations that he sexually assaulted a fellow member of Parliament.

The 32-year-old, who has been an MP since 2017, said it was the “hardest decision of my life” not to contest his Aberdeen South seat in the December general election.

Thomson was reported to the parliamentary authorities by Labour MP Paul Sweeney, who alleged that Thomson groped him in a House of Commons bar in October last year, says The Guardian.

Sweeney told The Mail on Sunday that he had taken a group of old friends from university to the Strangers’ Bar when Thomson approached him.

Thomson, who was almost “too drunk to stand”, allegedly fondled Sweeney and tried to put his hands down his trousers, while making “suggestive, sexual noises” in his ear, the newspaper reports.

“I felt paralysed. It was just such a shocking thing. I was in a cold sweat. It was mortifying,” said Sweeney. “Nobody knew where to look at the table. It’s embarrassing.”

He added: “I couldn’t fight, so I took flight.”

Sweeney reported the incident to the Commons after reading about similar allegations against Thomson of “sexual touching” in the same bar that emerged in February, says the BBC.

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Thomson denies any wrongdoing. “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,” he said in a personal statement released on Twitter.

“I have suffered a level of personal abuse that has affected my health, my mental well-being and my staff. It has been a level of abuse that I never imagined possible.

“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.”

A spokesperson for Sweeney said: “Thomson’s denials today fly in the face of what was witnessed by other MPs and visitors and show him to be utterly unrepentant.”

Thomson admitted that he had been drinking at the Strangers’ Bar on the night of the alleged incident, and had socialised with Sweeney, but declined to discuss in detail what happened.

A Scottish Conservative Party spokesperson said: “We await the outcome of the Parliamentary Standards Commission investigation.”

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