A British Conservative lawmaker has been released on bail while police investigate allegations of rape and sexual assault against him
The lawmaker was arraigned Tuesday on suspicion of indecent assault, sexual assault, rape, abuse of a position of trust and misconduct in public office. Police, who identified the suspect only as a man in his 50s, said the arrest followed a report of alleged offenses that took place in London between 2002 and 2009.
House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle told lawmakers that “a member has been arrested in connection with an investigation into an allegation of very serious criminal offences”.
He said the lawmaker would stay out of parliament while the police investigate.
“I, the House of Commons Committee and the House Service, take the safety of our staff and the parliamentary community as a whole very seriously and ensure that all necessary measures are taken with regard to the MPs, employees and staff,” Hoyle said.
The British Parliament had long been known for its boozy, macho culture and late-night hours. That has changed in recent years, but parliamentary authorities acknowledge that bullying and other forms of misconduct remain a problem in a loosely regulated workplace where many thousands of people – from high-ranking ministers to junior staff – work long hours under intense pressure.
Staff members have been encouraged to report inappropriate behavior to parliament’s complaints watchdog, and several lawmakers have been charged with sex crimes.
Conservative lawmaker Charlie Elphicke was jailed in 2020 for sexually assaulting two women, and earlier this month Imran Ahmad Khan resigned as a Tory lawmaker after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy years.
Another Tory lawmaker, Neil Parish, resigned after watching porn on his phone in the House of Commons. Another, David Warburton, was suspended from the Conservative group in Parliament over allegations of sexual harassment and cocaine use.
The Conservative Party did not suspend the arrested lawmaker, in part because it would make his identity public.
Opposition Labor MP Jess Phillips said there was ‘a gap in the process’ which favors ‘the individual who is charged, charged or convicted over the safeguard and safety of the 6,000 other people who work here”.
“The reality is that… the Speaker of the House of Commons can only ask that person not to come here. That’s it,” she told the BBC.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is also Equalities Minister, said “the culture of the House of Commons has changed and must change again”.
“I think more needs to be done to professionalise the workings of the House of Commons,” she told LBC radio. But she added: “I don’t think that’s an excuse for people to commit terrible crimes.”