Why we’re talking about . . .

The accusations of inappropriate touching against Stanley Johnson

MP Caroline Nokes and a senior journalist say prime minister's father ‘smacked’ and ‘groped’ them

The prime minister’s father has been accused of inappropriately touching a former minister and a political journalist. 

Caroline Nokes, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, claimed Stanley Johnson smacked her on the bottom at the 2003 Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool. At the time Nokes was the prospective parliamentary candidate for Romsey, a seat she went on to win in 2010.

Speaking at a cross-party panel discussion hosted by Sky News, she said: “I can remember a really prominent man – at the time the Conservative candidate for Teignbridge in Devon – smacking me on the backside about as hard as he could and going, ‘Oh, Romsey, you’ve got a lovely seat’.”

The candidate was Stanley Johnson – Boris Johnson’s father – who failed in his attempt to be elected as an MP in 2005.

Nokes continued: “I would have been in my early 30s, so old enough, old enough to call it out… I now regard it as a duty, an absolute duty, to call out wherever you see it.

“Be the noisy, aggravating, aggressive woman in the room because if I’m not prepared to do that, then my daughter won’t be prepared to do that… you do get to a point where you go, ‘up with this, I will not put’.”

After the interview, Ailbhe Rea, political correspondent for The New Statesman, tweeted that Johnson had “groped” her at a party at the Conservative conference in 2019.

“I am grateful to Caroline Nokes for calling out something that none of us should have to put up with, not least from the Prime Minister’s father.”

Sky News approached Johnson for comment about the allegation. He told the broadcaster: “I have no recollection of Caroline Nokes at all – but there you go. And no reply… Hey ho, good luck and thanks.”

The panel also featured three other senior MPs discussing what changes could be made to end sexual harassment and violence in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder. Labour MPs Jess Phillips and Rosena Allin-Khan and the Conservative MP Fay Jones also recounted their experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace and in public.

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