Tories remove whip from MP Julian Knight after ‘serious sexual assault’ complaint to police

Julian Knight (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)
Julian Knight (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)

A senior Conservative MP has had the party whip removed after allegations of serious sexual assault were made to the Metropolitan Police.

On Thursday Julian Knight said was recusing himself from Parliament until the matter is resolved.

The chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, was suspended from the Tory party with immediate effect last night after a complaint was made to police.

The Met said in a statement that it had received allegations of serious sexual assault against unnamed victims on October 28.

The force added: "On December 7, a further referral relating to the incident[s] was made and an investigation was launched.

“Enquiries are ongoing. There have been no arrests.”

In a series of tweets on Thursday morning Mr Knight, the MP for Solihull, claimed he had not heard from the police and that his suspension from the party was “unjustified”.

He also referred to attempts to “blackmail” him and a “campaign of rumour and innuendo”.

Mr Knight said: “I have heard nothing from the police, the Whips Office or Parliament’s Internal Grievance Service, or been the subject of any investigation by the latter. Nor have I ever been warned or spoken to by the Whips office about any allegations of misconduct.

“I believe their withdrawal of the whip is wrong and unjustified.

“Some months ago I accepted the resignation of a staff member following a full enquiry into his conduct regarding House of Commons security issues and, separately, allegations of bullying against him.

“Subsequently, I have received what my lawyers advise are explicit threats involving blackmail as well as being at the centre of a campaign of rumour and innuendo.

“All matters are now with my lawyers and I will be recusing myself from Parliament until the matter is resolved.”

Mr Knight’s tweets came just minutes before he was due to chair a meeting of the DCMS Committee in Parliament.

Under Parliamentary rules committee chairs are chosen by the whole of the House of Commons allowing Mr Knight to have continued chairing the DCMS committee as an independent MP if he had chosen to.

However his decision to recuse himself from Parliament meant today’s meeting with arts leaders was instead chaired by his deputy, Labour’s Julie Elliott.

Details of the complaint against Mr Knight have not been made public. But in a statement a spokesperson for the Chief Whip Simon Hart said: “Following a complaint made to the Metropolitan Police this evening, we have removed the whip from Julian Knight MP with immediate effect.”

The Met said it could not comment on the matter without specific allegations.

Mr Knight becomes the fifth Tory MP to lose the whip.

Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who announced yesterday he would be standing down as an MP at the next election, lost the whip last month after he appeared in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

Ex Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher was suspended in July after allegations he had sexually assaulted two men, David Warburton was suspended in April over allegations that he sexually harassed three women.

Welsh MP Rob Roberts has sat as an independent since a panel found last year that he should be suspended from Parliament for six weeks for breaching its sexual misconduct policy.

And then earlier this week the Conservative peer Lady Mone lost the Tory whip in the Lords after she took a voluntary leave of absence over allegations relating to Covid PPE contracts.

In the past week, the former trade minister Conor Burns had the Conservative whip restored after he was cleared of sexual misconduct following an incident at the Conservative Party conference in October.

Meanwhile Labour has also suspended Conor McGinn, the MP for St Helens North, pending an investigation. Details of the nature of the inquiry have not yet been confirmed.

In a statement to The Guardian, Mr McGinn said “I strongly reject any suggestion of wrongdoing and I look forward to the matter being resolved quickly.

“I have not been told the details of the complaint but I am confident that it is entirely unfounded.”