A Labour frontbencher has criticised the Conservative Party for its “shocking” failure to suspend the whip from a Tory MP who was arrested on Sunday over allegations of sex offenses.
Jess Philips, the shadow minister for safeguarding, said that immediate action should have been taken the ruling Tory Party to suspend the unnamed former minister, who was arrested in London being released on bail, Metropolitan police reported.
Ms Philips said that the failure to sack the MP sent a “terrible message” that “protection” will be afforded to top-level MPs due to their Westminster status.
“In any other organisation, were this police investigation to be going on, somebody would be suspended while the investigation was taking place.” She added: “While pending a police investigation for a sexual crime, I think it is only right that the whip is withdrawn", she said while speaking to Times Radio on Sunday.
How exactly has the Conservative party taken this seriously? What action have they taken? What assurances can they give the young women who work in our offices in Westminster? pic.twitter.com/WkwaPIlyYG— Jess Phillips MP (@jessphillips) August 2, 2020
The Conservative whips office said it would review its decision not to suspend the MP once the police inquiry has finalised. This comes amid criticism for not taking action earlier after the accusations by alleged victims were initially raised a month ago.
“These are serious allegations and it is right that they are investigated fully. The whip has not been suspended. This decision will be reviewed once the police investigation has been concluded", the whips office said.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said he was unaware of the minister's identity but said he was "confident” his party was responding to the matter appropriately.
“We need to take allegations of this nature very seriously and I’m confident that the party is, and will do", he said.
The arrest follows former Conservative MP for Dover Charlie Elphicke, who was himself convicted on Friday for sexually assaulting two women in 2007 and 2016 respectively.
Elphicke was suspended following the accusations but later had the whip restored just before former Prime Minister Theresa May faced a vote of no confidence.
He was suspended once again in 2019 later when charges against him were introduced formally.