Chief whip investigates reports Tory MP watched porn in House of Commons

An investigation has been launched by the government chief whip into reports that a Conservative frontbencher watched pornography on his phone in the Commons chamber.

Female Tory MPs met Chris Heaton-Harris on Monday night to complain about sexism in parliament, with one alleging that a male colleague was watching pornography next to them in the House of Commons.

The group of about 12 to 14 female MPs shared their experiences of sexist behaviour among Tory male MPs, telling Heaton-Harris that something must be done. They also called for action against three cabinet ministers who are reportedly subject to inquiries about inappropriate sexual behaviour.

The MP who raised the issue did not name the male MP but there are reports that he was seen watching porn in both the chamber and a committee meeting.

A spokesperson for the whips said: “The chief whip is looking into this matter. This behaviour is wholly unacceptable and action will be taken.”

It comes following an outcry about misogyny towards the Labour deputy leader, Angela Rayner, after the Mail on Sunday published claims from a Tory MP that accused her of crossing and uncrossing her legs, like the character played by Sharon Stone in the film Basic Instinct, to distract Boris Johnson at prime minister’s questions. Rayner has hit out at the false claims.

Johnson was pressed about whether the Tories were taking sexual harassment seriously by Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, who asked in PMQs on Wednesday whether this was grounds for dismissal. “Of course sexual harassment is intolerable … of course it’s grounds for dismissal,” he said.

Afterwards, the prime minister’s press secretary said the Conservative party did not have a problem with misogyny and sexism.

She said: “You will have heard the PM address this explicitly in parliament today and over the last few days, saying there is absolutely no place for such behaviour and this cannot be tolerated in any workplace.”

Asked whether watching pornography at work was a sackable offence, she said: “I am not aware of the disciplinary action. Obviously, it is wholly unacceptable behaviour and it is being looked into.”

At the meeting of a group known as “the 2022”, the female MPs demanded action against sexism in the Conservative party. Theresa May was present for part of the meeting.

The Sunday Times reported last weekend that 56 MPs had been referred to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme over sexual complaints, including three cabinet ministers and two shadow cabinet ministers.

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