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Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
PA
# UK
Tories will act against MP facing rape allegations if police open investigation, party chair says
Nadhim Zahawi said he has commissioned independent legal advice after allegations were reported to the police.

CONSERVATIVE CHAIRMAN NADHIM Zahawi has said the party will act if police open an investigation into a senior Tory MP facing allegations of rape and sexual assault.

The unnamed MP was reported to the Metropolitan Police by a group of fellow Conservative MPs concerned about his behaviour, although he has not had the Tory whip suspended.

In a statement, Scotland Yard said it had received allegations via a third party of “serious sexual assault” and that officers were “making inquiries”.

Zahawi said he was made aware of the allegations when he became party chairman in October.

He said he had immediately commissioned independent legal advice in addition to the advice from the party’s in-house lawyers.

He said the party had also been speaking to the police, to the House of Commons authorities and to the Cabinet Office propriety and ethics team.

“That is something that the police are now looking at. If there is an investigation by the police, then we will obviously take action,” he told Times Radio.

“But at the moment, I’m waiting for the legal advice on safeguarding on this. It’s right to do this properly.”

Yesterday, UK business minister Kevin Hollinrake said it was important to follow due process and to establish the facts before making any “rush to judgment”.

He said the party would act in cases where there was “clear evidence” that wrongdoing had taken place.

“I have read the reports on that. I don’t know the facts behind it. I think we should establish the facts before we rush to judgment,” he told Times Radio.

“If there is evidence of offences, then they should be reported to the authorities, investigations should happen.

“If there is substance to those claims, then of course action should be taken. Processes have to be followed.”

Hollinrake said that a report in The Times that the Tory whips were warned some years ago about the MP – although the claims at that time did not include rape or assault – was “a concern”.

“You have seen in the past that we have been willing to suspend people and report those matters to the relevant authorities where there is clear evidence of wrongdoing,” he said.

“That is the proper way to go about this rather than jump to conclusions based upon a newspaper report. We have a presumption of innocence in this country.

“We must maintain that presumption of innocence because if we don’t there are horrendous consequences of that. We should not assume guilt before proper process has been undertaken.”

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: “On 28 October, police received allegations of serious sexual assault reported to have taken place on unknown dates at undisclosed locations.

“The reports were submitted via a third party. Officers are making enquiries into these allegations.”

Author
Press Association