In Brief

Tory MP accused of rape to stay away when Parliament returns in September

Conservative Party says the unnamed politician has agreed to steer clear of Commons when summer recess ends

The former Conservative minister arrested on suspicion of rape will not return to Westminister next month, amid growing calls for his suspension from Parliament. 

The as-of-yet unnamed senior Tory figure figure is understood to have “voluntarily agreed” to stay away from the Commons after the summer recess ends on 1 September, “but will continue to represent his constituents from home”, The Guardian says.

The MP was taken into custody in east London on 1 August and released pending investigations. He is permitted to attend Parliament, after his bail was extended to November, but the Conservative Party announced on Sunday that he would not do so. 

“These are serious allegations and it is right that they are investigated fully,” said a spokesperson. “A decision on the whip will be reviewed once the police investigation has been concluded.”

However, a coalition of 11 charities and trade unions including the TUC, Centenary Action Group, Fawcett Society and Women’s Aid has demanded that the MP be suspended while the probe is being carried out, a call that has been echoed by Labour, The Times reports.

“The House of Commons should be no different from any other workplace. Safety and the safeguarding of staff must be paramount,” the campaigners said in a joint statement days after his arrest. 

“Failure to suspend is yet another example of minimising violence against women and girls and failure to believe victims and survivors when they bravely speak out.”

The investigation into the allegations by a former parliamentary aide is being spearheaded by the Metropolitan Police’s Complex Case Team.

They include “four separate incidents involving allegations of sexual offences and assault” which are said to have taken place “at addresses in Westminster, Lambeth and Hackney between July 2019 and January 2020”, a Met spokesperson said.

The Sunday Times previously revealed that the allegations were first reported to the Conservative chief whip, Mark Spencer, in April this year. 

Spencer is understood to “not believe a sexual assault was reported to him in his conversation with the complainant”, but acknowledges that the alleged victim reported “abusive behaviour and threats”, according to the newspaper.

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