Boris Johnson was aware of concerns about the conduct of Chris Pincher when he made him deputy chief whip, Downing Street has confirmed.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the while he knew of claims which had been either been resolved or had not resulted in a formal complaint, it was not considered appropriate to block his appointment.
Mr Pincher plunged the Government into a new crisis when he dramatically quit last week over allegations he groped two men at a Conservative private members’ club.
He had previously resigned from the whips office in 2017 over claims he made unwanted advances to a young activist, but was later reinstated after being cleared by an internal Conservative Party investigation.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson Reuters
Chris Pincher UK Parliament
Over the weekend, however, details emerged in the press of further claims about alleged sexual advances to men – including two fellow Conservative MPs – over a period of years.
Mr Pincher has denied the allegations.
But Mr Johnson’s spokesman said the Prime Minister had been aware of the “speculation” there had been about Mr Pincher over a number of years when he made him deputy chief whip last February.
“I can’t get into too much detail but he did take advice on some of the allegations that had been made, but there was no formal complaint at that time and it was deemed not appropriate to stop an appointment simply because of unsubstantiated allegations,” the spokesman said.
“He was aware that there had been reports and speculation over the years with regards to this individual, but there were no specific allegation. There was no formal complaint at that time.”
The spokesman declined to comment on a claim by Mr Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings that the Prime Minister had referred to the MP as “Pincher by name, pincher by nature”.
“I’m simply not going to comment on content of what was or wasn’t said in private conversations,” the spokesman said.