Wragg stands down as PACAC chair after sharing MPs' numbers with scammer

MP hands in resignation in fallout from "honeypot" sexting scam
Photo: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

William Wragg will stand down as chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee after sharing MPs’ numbers with a scam artist in a sexting scandal.

Wragg has submitted written notice to the speaker of the House of Commons that he intends to resign as PACAC chair, a spokesperson told CSW.

Arrangements for the election of his successor will be announced after the House returns from the Easter recess on 15 April.

Last week Wragg, who has led the committee since early 2020, admitted sharing the phone numbers of several colleagues with someone he met on a dating app.

The MP for Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester, who had already announced he will stand down at the upcoming general election, said he was “manipulated” into sharing MPs’ numbers over fears that the scammer would leak intimate images he had sent to the scammer.

The scammer reportedly then sent flirtatious messages and explicit pictures to MPs in a bid to coax them into sharing compromising photos of themselves.

The Metropolitan Police is investigating the reports after it emerged that at least 12 men had received unsolicited messages as part of the so-called “honeytrap” scam.

PACAC, which is in the midst of an inquiry into "fraught" relations between ministers and civil servants, did not respond to CSW's request for comment at the time of publication.

In his four and a half years leading the committee, Wragg has been outspoken in holding both departments and politicians to account.

In January 2022, he accused No.10 of trying to "blackmail" MPs into supporting then-prime minister Boris Johnson, who was at risk of being ousted over the Partygate scandal.

He used an evidence session to condemn reports that MPs had been threatened with losing constituency funding or finding “embarrassing” stories about themselves in the press if they backed a vote of confidence in Boris Johnson as "simply unacceptable".

In an interview with CSW last summer, Wragg said one of his proudest achievements at PACAC was the level of consensus the commitee had achieved despite its members' differing views and party affiliations.

He said he had only had to cast the deciding vote when the committee was split over a decision on one occation, on voter ID.

“I thought that that showed, probably, very clever report-drafting, but also a willingness cross-party to engage with the serious matters,” he said.

Met Police investigating honeypot scam reports

In a statement, Scotland Yard said it is in contact with Leicestershire Police and the Parliamentary Security Department “following reporting of unsolicited messages to members of parliament”, amid concerns other MPs and their staff could be victims of blackmail.

“We will assess any reports made to us accordingly,” it added.

Among those targeted was Conservative MP for Bosworth Luke Evans, who said he had reported an instance of “cyber flashing” to the police.

In a video posted to Facebook on 5 April, Dr Evans said: “The first set of messages I got was on a day I was with my wife and I got a one time open photo on WhatsApp of an explicit image of a naked lady. As soon as I got these the next day I reported it to the police, the authorities and the chief whip.

“Ten days later, I got another set of messages. This time, however, I was sitting with my team in the constituency office, so we were able to record the conversation and catch photos and videos of the messages coming through, including another explicit female image.”

Apologising for his “weakness” in sharing contact details with the scammer, Wragg told The Times: “They had compromising things on me. They wouldn’t leave me alone. They would ask for people. I gave them some numbers, not all of them. I told him to stop. He’s manipulated me and now I’ve hurt other people.

“I got chatting to a guy on an app and we exchanged pictures. We were meant to meet up for drinks, but then didn’t. Then he started asking for numbers of people.

“I was worried because he had stuff on me. He gave me a WhatsApp number, which doesn’t work now.”

He added: “I’ve hurt people by being weak. I was scared. I’m mortified. I’m so sorry that my weakness has caused other people hurt.”

Wragg has reportedly also stood down as vice-chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs.

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