Ian Payne 10pm - 1am
PM accused of 'turning blind eye to Chris Pincher warnings' as more allegations emerge
2 July 2022, 23:12 | Updated: 3 July 2022, 09:03
The Prime Minister has been accused of deliberately ignoring warnings about his former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher, as fresh allegations against the MP emerged.
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Mr Pincher resigned from his post and had the Tory whip withdrawn after allegations he 'groped' two men after drinking "far too much" at a Tory private members club.
The Telegraph reports Boris Johnson was warned about previous allegations of sexual misconduct against Mr Pincher prior to his appointment.
The paper says he turned a blind eye to the claims - and even lost another whip over it, with Craig Whittaker now said to have resigned in protest at Mr Pincher's appointment.
Mr Pincher resigned as deputy chief whip on Thursday.
In his resignation letter he said he had "embarrassed myself and other people" after drinking "far too much".
Whilst the letter made no direct reference to allegations levelled against him, The Sun reported Mr Pincher had been accused of groping two men.
Since then other allegations have been made.
The Times reported a young Tory activist said he had received an unwanted sexual advance from Mr Pincher last year.
And on Saturday night the Independent said an anonymous Tory MP had claimed to have been groped twice by the former deputy chief whip.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey insisted Mr Johnson was "not aware of specific claims" about Mr Pincher before making him Tory deputy chief whip.
She said on Sky this morning: "I am aware that the Prime Minister was not aware of specific claims that had been made."
Mr Johnson is now facing tough questions over what he had been told prior to appointing Mr Pincher.
Dominic Cummings accused him of "lying again" and said the Prime Minister referred to the MP "laughingly in No 10 as 'Pincher by name, pincher by nature' long before appointing him".
But a No 10 spokesman said the Prime Minister had not been made aware of anything that would have prevented the appointment going ahead.
When Mr Johnson came under fire on Friday for not immediately withdrawing the whip from Mr Pincher, the spokesperson said: "In the absence of any formal complaints, it was not appropriate to stop an appointment on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations."
Whilst Mr Pincher quit his post as deputy chief whip and was suspended from the Tory party, he remains an MP.
On Saturday he said he was "truly sorry for the upset I caused" and said he was seeking "professional medical support".
"I respect the Prime Minister's decision to suspend the whip whilst an inquiry is underway, and I will cooperate fully with it," he said.
"As I told the Prime Minister, I drank far too much on Wednesday night, embarrassing myself and others and I am truly sorry for the upset I caused.
"The stresses of the last few days, coming on top of those over the last several months, have made me accept that I will benefit from professional medical support.
"I am in the process of seeking that now, and I hope to be able to return to my constituency duties as soon as possible."