MP who drunkenly groped civil servant announces resignation

Chris Pincher’s decision follows standards commissioner’s report describing his behaviour as “completely inappropriate” and an “abuse of power”
Chris Pincher Photo: Parliament.uk

By Jim Dunton

07 Sep 2023

Former Conservative Party deputy chief whip Christopher Pincher has announced that he will resign as an MP after a report from parliament’s standards commissioner found he had groped two men at an exclusive club.

One of Pincher’s victims at the Carlton Club in June last year was a civil servant; the other was a member of staff at the House of Lords. Parliamentary standards commissioner Daniel Greenberg’s report on the incident said Pincher’s conduct was “completely inappropriate, profoundly damaging to the individuals concerned, and represented an abuse of power”.

The report, published in July this year, prompted a recommendation from MPs on the Standards Committee for Pincher to be suspended from parliament for eight weeks, enough to trigger a recall ballot in his Tamworth constituency. Pincher challenged the proposed sanction but on Monday this week his appeal was dismissed by an independent panel. He did not challenge the commissioner’s finding that he breached the code of conduct.

Pincher lost the Conservative Party whip after the Carlton Club allegations emerged and has sat as an independent MP since. In a statement today he said he would resign from parliament, prompting a by-election without the need for a local ballot.

“I have said already that I will not stand at the next general election,” Pincher said. “However following the Independent Expert Panel’s decision, I wanted to talk to my office team and family.

“I do not want my constituents to be put to further uncertainty, and so in consequence I have made arrangements to resign and leave the Commons.

“Tamworth is a wonderful place and it has been an honour to represent its people. I shall make no further comment at this time.”

Greenberg’s report on Pincher’s conduct said neither of the MP’s Carlton Club victims had met or spoken to the then-deputy chief whip and former Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister before the night of the incident.

The civil servant, who was at the Carlton Club to meet with a former employer, said the incident had “significantly impacted” him.

“I have become increasingly anxious as a result of the incident, and I am now taking medication to manage my anxiety,” he said in a statement.

“I am also fearful about whether this incident will impact my job and future career plans. After the incident, I stopped exercising, which has resulted in my gaining a lot of weight. I have also been subject to rumours about the incident and speculation about my involvement.”

When the allegations first surfaced, Pincher admitted he had drunk “far too much” and embarrassed himself.

Downing Street’s handling of the Carlton Club incident – and particularly then-PM Boris Johnson’s attempts to play down knowledge of previous concerns about Pincher – triggered the wave of ministerial resignations that forced Johnson to step down as prime minister.

The tipping point for Johnson came when former FCO permanent secretary Lord Simon McDonald directly contradicted No.10’s claims about previous complaints related to Pincher.

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