Politics

MP who watched porn in Commons ‘can’t believe’ Chris Pincher hasn’t had whip removed

Disgraced ex-Tory MP Neil Parish said he “can’t believe” that his former colleague Christopher Pincher has not had the party whip withdrawn over groping allegations.

The former Tiverton and Honiton MP accused Tory leaders of holding double standards by allowing the former deputy chief whip to remain sitting for the party.

Mr Parish said that in his own misconduct scandal – back in April when he was revealed to have watched pornography in the Commons chamber – he lost the whip swiftly.

“The first thing they did to me, and I made a huge mistake, was they withdrew the whip. There cannot be double standards,” he said to LBC on Friday.

Mr Pincher resigned his role in the government whips’ office on Thursday evening after he was accused of groping two men while drunk. In a resignation letter to Boris Johnson, he said he had “embarrassed himself and other people” by drinking too much at the Tory party’s private members’ club in London.

A cabinet minister suggested on Friday morning that Mr Pincher would soon have the whip removed over the claims but speculation whirled throughout the day as the party took no action.

Mr Parish, asked why he thought the whip had not been removed, said: “I can’t believe why they haven’t done it, because that was the first thing they did to me, even though I asked for it to be sorted out privately.

Neil Parish by his home in Somerset

(Tom Wren/SWNS)

“I just feel it is double standards. But I suspect by this evening or tomorrow the whip will be withdrawn. I can’t believe they can treat us in such different ways.”

Asked if he felt he was treated badly by theTory party, he said: “I have accepted what happened and I made a big mistake and so up until now, yes I have.

“But I have to say to you on this occasion, then I am very upset.”

Mr Parish suggested Mr Pincher was protected from harsh treatment by the role he held in government.

“He may be deputy chief whip, he may have even been the man who removed the whip from me, so come on, let’s be fair,” he said.

Chris Pincher MP heads towards Downing Street before his appointment as deputy chief whip

(PA)

After Mr Pincher resigned it came to light that he was appointed to his influential government role despite concerns about earlier behaviour. He quit the whips’ office under Theresa May in 2017 after a complaint over an unwanted pass at the former Olympic rower and Conservative candidate Alex Story.

He was reinstated months later and in February this year was made deputy chief whip under Mr Johnson after being part of a “save Boris” operation as the prime minister’s position was imperilled by the Partygate scandal.

Though Mr Johnson was reportedly advised against Mr Pincher’s appointment, Downing Street said the prime minister saw no reason to block it.

Asked about the groping allegations on Friday, No 10 said Mr Johnson thought the behaviour “unacceptable” but suggested he considered the matter closed after accepting Mr Pincher’s resignation.

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