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- Downing Street refuses to say when the prime minister first heard of sexual harassment allegations against Conservative MPs. May’s spokesman repeatedly refuses to say confirm whether or not government whips have reported allegations against Tory MPs to her. Almost 40 Conservative MPs were included in a dossier of allegations being circulated at Westminster. May’s spokesman refuses to say whether she has confidence in her minister Mark Garnier, who faces allegations of sexually inappropriate behaviour.
LONDON – A spokesperson for Theresa May today repeatedly refused to say when the prime minister first heard about dozens of allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behaviour made against Conservative MPs and serving cabinet ministers.
May’s spokesman told Business Insider that May acted once the allegations were “made public” but was unable to say when the prime minister was first informed about them.
Westminster is engulfed in a growing sexual harassment scandal after a dossier of allegations against almost 40 Tory MPs was circulated by parliamentary staff, with Labour MPs also expected to be drawn into the scandal.
The prime minister has already launched a Cabinet Office investigation into one serving minister, Mark Garnier, who has admitted making sexual remarks to a member of staff as well as instructing her to buy sex toys for him.
Garnier denies that the behaviour constitutes harassment. However, other former and current ministers are also reportedly included in the dossier, with the Times reporting that government whips regularly inform the prime minister of allegations of sexual misconduct.
A spokesman for the prime minister today denied that there were any such regular meetings. However, he also repeatedly refused to say when the prime minister was first made aware of the allegations against her MPs, saying only that the PM had acted once the allegations were “made public.”
“I don’t have a timetable for that,” he told Business Insider.
“What I can point to very quickly is that once the allegations were made public the prime minister asked for that review to take place and as you also saw she sent a letter as leader of the Conservative party to the Speaker looking more broadly at the issues and the next steps that will be taken.”
Asked by BI again whether May had ever been informed of any sexual allegations against her MPs whilst prime minister, the spokesman replied:
“I can’t get into every conversation that the prime minister has ever had.”
“But the fact is you are referring to speculation over the weekend about a dossier. There is no dossier and therefore the prime minister hasn’t seen one.”
Government whips in the past have reportedly been in possession of a so-called “black book” detailing allegations against MPs.
This information has reportedly been used by the whips to secure that MPs remain loyal to the prime minister of the day. It has historically been the job of the whip to pass this information on to the PM.
May’s spokesman refused to say whether this practice continued, and whether whips had informed her of allegations made against her MPs.
“I’m not getting into every conversation the prime minister has with her whips,” he said, adding that: “It’s the job of the whip to update the prime minister on parliamentary matters.”
The spokesman also repeatedly refused to say whether the prime minister has confidence in Garnier, saying only that they would not pre-empt the outcome of the investigation into him.
They added that they were “not aware” of any other active investigations into serving MPs or ministers.