Chris Pincher should be suspended as an MP for eight weeks following allegations he groped two people at the Carlton Club last summer, Parliament’s standards watchdog has recommended. The Standards Committee report into the Tamworth MP – who was a Tory MP – found that Pincher ‘groped [two people]…and that this was unwanted, inappropriate, and upsetting’.
The lengthy suspension means that Pincher’s constituency can be subject to a recall petition – the threshold needed for these petitions is a suspension of ten days or more – and that a by-election is therefore on the horizon.
Pincher may choose to quit straight away and trigger that election earlier, though a problem is that the candidate for Tamworth is Eddie Hughes, currently the MP for Walsall North. So if Hughes were to stand, he would have to resign his existing seat, which is being broken up in the boundary changes, thereby triggering yet another by-election.
The report is the sort of damning material you’d expect for an eight week suspension. It finds that the former deputy chief whip groped two people at the Carlton Club on 29 and 30 June. The accounts from the witnesses are powerful, with one who was groped saying they have ‘become increasingly anxious as a result of the incident, and I am now taking medication to manage my anxiety’, as well as being fearful about the impact on their career and being ‘subject to rumours about the incident and speculation about my involvement’. The report says:
‘Mr Pincher’s conduct was completely inappropriate, propounding damaging to the individuals concerned, and represented an abuse of power.’