Tory MP 'mortified' after being 'manipulated' in honeytrap sext scam

5 April 2024, 00:26 | Updated: 5 April 2024, 05:14

William Wragg has apologised for leaking fellow MP phone numbers
William Wragg has apologised for leaking fellow MP phone numbers. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Flaminia Luck

William Wragg says he is "mortified" after admitting his involvement in a 'honeytrap' sexting scandal in which he says he was "manipulated".

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Mr Wragg told The Times he handed over the personal phone numbers of colleagues to a man he met on Grindr, a gay dating app.

He admitted he shared the details after sending intimate pictures of himself to the user, adding he was “scared” that the man “had compromising things on me”.

It is now understood two MPs have sent explicit images of themselves after being contacted by various senders under different aliases.

The colleagues — which included several MPs, members of their staff and a political journalist — were sent unsolicited flirtatious messages from senders calling themselves “Charlie” or “Abi”.

Leicestershire Police confirmed they are investigating a report of malicious communications.

Wragg is the vice-chairman of the 1922 committee
Wragg is the vice-chairman of the 1922 committee. Picture: Getty Images

A force spokesperson is investigating a report of malicious communications after a number of unsolicited messages were sent to a Leicestershire MP last month.

They were reported to police on Tuesday March 19.

"Inquiries are currently ongoing," the force confirmed.

The admission has sparked questions about a possible by-election in Mr Wragg's seat of Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester.

Read more: Alan Duncan being investigated by Conservative Party after criticising fellow Tories for Israel support

The scandal has also raised concerns over the vulnerability of MPs to cyberattacks, is now the subject of an investigation by Leicestershire police, which has received a complaint of “malicious communications” against a parliamentarian.

Experts have said it could be an incident of “spearphishing”, a technique used to gather highly personalised, sensitive or compromising material.

Wragg - who is the chairman of a Commons select committee and vice-chairman of the 1922 committee - was approached after speaking to victims who believed he was involved.

The MP, who is gay, said he was “mortified” and apologised for his “weakness”.

“They had compromising things on me. They wouldn’t leave me alone. They would ask for people. I gave them some numbers, not all of them. I told him to stop. He’s manipulated me and now I’ve hurt other people.

Wragg is the MP for Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester. Picture: Getty Images

“I got chatting to a guy on an app and we exchanged pictures. We were meant to meet up for drinks, but then didn’t. Then he started asking for numbers of people. I was worried because he had stuff on me. He gave me a WhatsApp number, which doesn’t work now.

“I’ve hurt people by being weak. I was scared. I’m mortified. I’m so sorry that my weakness has caused other people hurt" he told The Times.

On Wednesday Politico reported MPs had been sent texts from an unknown number. The sender would explain that they had met years ago, usually in one of the parliamentary bars.

Read more: Civil servants threaten to stop work over arms sales to Israel

The person identified themselves as either “Charlie” or “Abi”, from a phone number with a profile picture featuring a man in a white t-shirt having a meal with a woman in a blue and white dress.

To the male MPs targeted, “Charlie” also provided another picture featuring him dressed in a white T-shirt in what looks like a bar.

Early in the conversation, men who were targeted by "Charlie" received an explicit picture and were requested to reciprocate.

Many blocked “Charlie” or did not reply. However, The Times understands two MPs did respond by sending an explicit picture of themselves.

“Charlie” said he used to work in Parliament and boasted about having had sex with several Conservative and Labour MPs.

When asked by one MP on who he worked for, “Charlie” said he had done an internship with Wragg in 2022. Wragg denied “Charlie” had ever worked for him.

Wragg met the man on gay dating app Grindr
Wragg met the man on gay dating app Grindr. Picture: Getty

Wragg’s connection to the scandal emerged on Wednesday as MPs confided in each other about their suspicions.

Wragg had already been considering a future beyond parliament, having declared his decision to step down as an MP after the upcoming election. Should there be complaints directed to Conservative whips, he might encounter the possibility of being compelled to serve as an independent. With Parliament currently in recess, Wragg won't be returning to Westminster for almost two weeks.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons speaker, has written to all MPs and staff to tell them that the parliamentary security department was investigating.

Read more: Robbery mastermind who hid from justice for 17 years found guilty of murdering PC Sharon Beshenivsky

Anyone with knowledge of the messages was urged to “come forward … and share the details and any concerns”.

“They were reported to police on Tuesday 19 March. Inquiries are currently ongoing.”

Parliamentary authorities will “work closely with partners in government to analyse and understand the nature of these messages and any related security risk” he said.

Security guidance for mobile phones and wider cyber security advice was also circulated.

A parliamentary spokesperson said: “Parliament takes security extremely seriously and works closely with government in response to such incidents.

"We provide members and staff with tailored advice, making them aware of security risks and how to manage their digital safety.

"We are encouraging anyone affected who has concerns to contact the Parliamentary Security Department.”