Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle today warned MPs not to use parliamentary privilege, which prevents them being sued for libel, to name him in the chamber.
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Politicians were told not to publicly name a Tory MP arrested over allegations of rape and sexual assault today, as he agreed to stay away from Westminster while being investigated by police.  

The Conservative, aged in his 50s, was released on bail today after being held last night on suspicion of offences spanning seven years.

Scotland Yard said he had also been detained on suspicion of indecent assault, abuse of position of trust and misconduct in public office – with all the alleged offences said to have occurred in London.

The Tories face mounting pressure from within the party to name the MP and prevent a guessing game as to hi identity, though Foreign Secretary Liz Truss today insisted it was a ‘matter for the police about whether that individual is named’. 

However, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle today warned MPs not to use parliamentary privilege, which prevents them being sued for libel, to name him in the chamber.

At the start of today’s session he said: ‘While the investigation is ongoing, I believe that it would be wholly inappropriate for any further reference to be made to this matter in the house, including any attempt to name the member concerned.’

He also confirmed that the MP had agreed not to return to Parliament. Tory chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris has not suspended the whip, meaning the suspect remains a member of the parliamentary party. 

It came as a Conservative backbencher was branded ‘grotesque’ for a tweet critics said ‘trialialised’ the case. 

Litchfield MP Michael Fabricant wrote that party MPs would be out in force at Prime Minister’s Questions this lunchtime in order to show they were not the politician being investigated.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle today warned MPs not to use parliamentary privilege, which prevents them being sued for libel, to name him in the chamber.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle today warned MPs not to use parliamentary privilege, which prevents them being sued for libel, to name him in the chamber.

Litchfield MP Michael Fabricant wrote that party MPs including himself would be out in force at Prime Minister's Questions this lunchtime in order to show they were not the politician being investigated.

Litchfield MP Michael Fabricant wrote that party MPs including himself would be out in force at Prime Minister’s Questions this lunchtime in order to show they were not the politician being investigated.

An MP arrested on suspicion of rape and sexual assault offences spanning seven years has been released on bail (file image)

An MP arrested on suspicion of rape and sexual assault offences spanning seven years has been released on bail (file image)

Renewed scrutiny of sleaze in Westminster

The arrest comes after Parliament was rocked by a fresh Pestminster scandal following a series of shocking cases.

Imran Ahmad Khan resigned as a Tory MP after last month being convicted of molesting a teenage boy.

Conservative David Warburton was suspended following sexual harassment allegations. 

Around 50 MPs are said to have been referred to Parliament’s authorities over sex assault claims.

The arrest came on the day the Conservatives officially triggered by-election contests to replace two MPs. A contest in Wakefield follows Khan’s resignation. 

Tory Neil Parish quit his Tiverton and Honiton seat after he admitted watching pornography in the Commons.

Farmer Mr Parish first said he accidentally viewed one X-rated video when browsing for tractors, before later doing so deliberately in the Commons chamber.

In 2020 former Tory MP Charlie Elphicke was sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of three counts of sexual assault against two women.

He was convicted in relation to a parliamentary worker in 2016 and a woman at his family’s London home in 2007.

Last year ex-Labour MP Mike Hill resigned after a former parliamentary worker alleged he sexually harassed and bullied her over a 16-month period, groping her and rubbing himself against her.

Labour’s Chris Bryant said: ‘It shows callous disregard for the alleged victims, and it implies rape and sexual assault are a laughing matter. Take it down.’

Conservative whips are understood to have spoken to Mr Fabricant, with a party source describing the tweet as ‘inappropriate’.

But Mr Fabricant said: ‘In no way was I making light of rape or any other assault. They disgust me.

‘I was, however, commenting on the speculation as to who the MP might be.’

Police said in an update at about 7.40am today that the MP had been ‘bailed pending further enquiries to a date in mid-June’ and that an investigation is ongoing, led by officers from the Central Specialist Crime unit.

Last month it emerged that around 70 allegations of sexual misconduct about 56 MPs have been reported to Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS), according to insiders who spoke to the Sunday Times – with the offences ranging from sexual harassment to more serious offences. 

In the last year alone, about 15 MPs are suspected to have been investigated by Parliament’s ICGS watchdog which examines allegations of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct. 

The Conservative Party’s decision to not name the MP will spark fears that other men might wrongly be suspected, with one senior backbencher telling The Telegraph that the party should issue a denial if another politician were falsely identified as the suspect.

Before Tory MP Neil Parish – who quit his Tiverton and Honiton seat after he admitted watching pornography in the Commons – was revealed as the ‘porn MP’ last month, some other men were named as potential perpetrators.

Farmer Mr Parish first said he accidentally viewed one X-rated video when browsing for tractors, before later doing so deliberately in the Commons chamber. And a colleague said last night: ‘What happened with Neil is that names flew around… There should be a categorical denial of the other names.’

The Metropolitan Police had earlier said that officers received a report in January 2020 relating to alleged sexual offences committed in London between 2002 and 2009.

It was understood the Conservatives will not make a decision on whether the suspect has the whip suspended until after the police investigation has concluded.

Shortly before the police issued an update this morning on the MP being bailed, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was ‘very, very concerned’ that the politician had been arrested.

Asked how she felt when she heard the news, she told Sky News: ‘I’m very, very concerned about the reports that I’ve heard. Clearly this is a matter for the police.

‘The police are currently working on the case but it is worrying that we are seeing these appalling … accusations, again, about a parliamentarian.’

Tory chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris (pictured) urged the MP to stay away from Parliament but has not suspended the whip

Tory chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris (pictured) urged the MP to stay away from Parliament but has not suspended the whip

Asked if the MP should have been suspended or had the whip withdrawn, she said: ‘I think it’s a matter for the police about whether that individual is named.

‘I don’t know who it is. I know that the police are looking at it and investigating it and I think we need to wait for the police to conduct those investigations.’

She also told LBC Radio: ‘I certainly think that the culture of the House of Commons has changed and needs to change further.

‘I think there needs to be more to be done to professionalise the way the House of Commons works. I would agree with that.

‘But I don’t think we can attribute that, I don’t think that’s an excuse for people to commit appalling crimes.’

Conservative sources declined to identify the individual, citing the need to protect the identity of any complainant.

A statement from the Tory whips’ office said: ‘The chief whip has asked that the MP concerned does not attend the Parliamentary estate while an investigation is ongoing. Until the conclusion of the investigation we will not be commenting further.’

The Prospect union, which represents hundreds of staff working in the Houses of Parliament, said firmer action was needed.

Deputy general secretary Garry Graham said: ‘What will it take for Parliament to finally take its responsibility to its staff and visitors seriously and suspend access to the estate for parliamentarians under investigation for sexual offences?

‘Voluntary agreements to stay away do not work, as demonstrated by Imran Ahmad Khan’s attendance at Westminster whilst investigations were ongoing, despite agreeing to stay away.

‘Parliament has the same responsibilities towards its staff as any other workplace and it must live up to them.’

A Scotland Yard spokesman said today: ‘In January 2020, the Met received a report relating to alleged sexual offences having been committed between 2002 and 2009.

‘The offences are alleged to have occurred in London. An investigation is ongoing, led by officers from Central Specialist Crime .

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Sky News she is "very, very concerned" that a Tory MP had been arrested on suspicion of rape

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Sky News she is ‘very, very concerned’ that a Tory MP had been arrested on suspicion of rape

‘A man, aged in his 50s, was arrested on suspicion of indecent assault, sexual assault, rape, abuse of position of trust and misconduct in public office. 

‘He was taken into custody and has since been bailed pending further enquiries to a date in mid-June.’

The arrest comes amid renewed scrutiny of sleaze in Westminster following a string of cases.

Former Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan quit the Commons earlier this month after being convicted of sexually assaulting a boy.

David Warburton had the Conservative whip withdrawn after allegations of sexual harassment and cocaine use emerged.

Neil Parish stood down as the Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton earlier this month after admitting watching pornography in the Commons.

The latest arrest also follows a Tory MP being arrested on suspicion of rape in 2020. He was never identified and police took no further action after an investigation.

The Tory MP’s arrest threatened to overshadow the Government’s ‘crime week’ with Boris Johnson telling yesterday’s Cabinet meeting: ‘Crime, crime, crime is what we want to focus on.’ 

The Prime Minister said sexual and domestic violence victims needed to know the Government was on their side, adding: ‘We want to see more rapists brought to justice.’

Police said officers received a report in January 2020 relating to alleged sexual offences committed in London (file image)

Police said officers received a report in January 2020 relating to alleged sexual offences committed in London (file image)

In the last ‘crime week’ last December, Mr Johnson faced allegations of Covid rule-breaking by his Downing Street team. 

Allegra Stratton, his adviser, quit after a video emerged of her laughing about an ‘illegal’ party in No 10 during lockdown.

Mr Johnson also faced questions over whether he misled a probe into donations for refurbishments to his Downing Street flat after the Electoral Commission fined the Tories £17,800.

Last night there was no answer at the arrested MP’s home. A person who answered the phone at his constituency office said: ‘I’m sorry we have got no information at all’, before putting the phone down. 

Conservative sources declined to identify the MP. A Speaker’s Office spokesman declined to comment.

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