In Brief

Conservatives to investigate MP who ‘invited 21-year-old intern to fool around’

Opposition calling for Rob Roberts to be suspended during inquiry following claims by two parliamentary workers

The Conservative Party has launched an investigation into a Tory MP accused of inappropriate behaviour towards two junior parliamentary staff.

Rob Roberts, who was elected in the North Wales constituency of Delyn last year, is alleged to have invited a 21-year-old intern to “fool around” with him, in text messages seen by the BBC

The 40-year-old MP has previously admitted to asking out and making “inappropriate” comments to a male Commons employee, “who subsequently changed job”, The Guardian says. 

Confirming that an inquiry has been launched, a Tory party spokesperson said yesterday that “while Mr Roberts has apologised for his behaviour and has been undertaking safeguarding and social media protection training, we are clear such conduct is completely unacceptable”.

The announcement yesterday followed opposition calls for action, with acting Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey tweeting: “The Conservative Party must immediately remove the whip while they investigate, or they risk sending the message that this is acceptable conduct for a sitting MP.”

According to the BBC, Roberts’ texts to the female intern, sent in April, included a message about her “picture on Twitter earlier. Lovely legs.”

The woman told the MP that she was struggling with her mental health and was in an “awful state”, but Roberts reportedly replied that he was “just thinking about fun times… Maybe if you thought of them too it might help you.”

He also told the intern not to “ignore me when I’m making you feel better”, adding that they could “fool around with no strings, you might come and visit me in London”.

Later in the exchange, Roberts - who had recently separated from his wife before coming out as gay - said that he “might be gay but I enjoy… fun times”.

The woman told the broadcaster that his series of messages had made her feel “incredibly sick”.

“I had had one of the worst days ever, and then I messaged him saying, ‘I’m crying, I’m not OK’, and his solution to that was to proposition me,” she said.

In addition to the Tory party investigation, Roberts is “believed to be subject to at least one complaint under Parliament’s independent grievance process”, The Times reports. And “scrutiny of the politician has deepened after a Labour leader referred him to the MP watchdog”, adds the Daily Mail

Charlotte Nichols, MP for Warrington North, has tweeted that she reported Roberts “via the third party reporting line over a month ago”. 

The Tory MP was also at the centre of another controversy in May, during lockdown, when police responded to reports of a 40th birthday party at his family home. 

“Police broke up the celebration and two people were thrown out after officers arrived,” the Daily Mail reports.

But Roberts “pleaded ignorance when quizzed by reporters at his home, despite a silvery ‘40’ banner being visible behind him”, according to the newspaper.

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