In Depth

Why everyone’s talking about the Tory MP arrested on suspicion of rape

Conservative Party under fire for failing to suspend unnamed former minister

A Conservative MP accused of raping a former parliamentary aide will not be suspended from the party while the allegations are investigated, a Tory spokesperson has confirmed.

The announcement follows the arrest this weekend of the former minister, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The alleged victim has also claimed that she reported the assaults to Conservative Party chief whip Mark Spencer back in April, but that no action was taken.

What happened?

The unnamed Tory MP was taken into custody by police in East London early on Saturday morning, according The Sunday Times.

The complainant alleges that while in a relationship with the MP last year, he “assaulted her, forced her to have sex and left her so traumatised that she had to go to hospital”, the newspaper says.

The Metropolitan Police say the claims relate to four separate alleged incidents at addresses in Westminster, Lambeth and Hackney between July 2019 and January 2020.

The MP has been released on bail. 

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told Times Radio that he did not know the identity of the MP involved but was “confident” that the Tory party was taking the matter seriously.

“These are very serious allegations and they should be investigated,” Jenrick said, adding that the issue “is being handled by the chief whip, who is in contact with the member of parliament in question”.

Why is the Conservative Party under fire?

The alleged victim in the case claims to have complained to Spencer about the MP in question four months ago, but “became frustrated when nothing was done” and “sought a second meeting with him, which she says he declined”, according to The Telegraph

The Tory chief whip “is understood to have decided not to take immediate action against the MP until the police investigation was concluded”, adds The Times.

Last night, the alleged victim told the newspaper that the party’s failure to take action was “insulting and shows they never cared”.

“I felt like he [Spencer] did not take me seriously or recognise the severity of what had happened,” she said. “In any other organisation, were this investigation to be going on, this police investigation, somebody would be suspended while the investigation was taking place.”

In a statement, the Labour Party said that the failure to suspend the MP at the centre of the allegations sent a “terrible message” that senior figures were able to secure “protection” through their Westminster status.

What happens next?

Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi insisted this morning that it was “only right” for the Conservative Party to wait until the police investigation had concluded before taking any action. “When that’s completed, you will be hearing from the chief whip,” he told Today on BBC Radio 4.

Meanwhile, a Conservative Party spokesperson said: “We take all allegations of this nature extremely seriously. As this matter is now in the hands of the police, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

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