Chris Pincher quit the whips’ office after former professional rower and Tory activist Alex Story accused him of making unwanted passes, massaging his neck while telling him he would go far in the party and acting like a “poundshop Harvey Weinstein” towards him in 2001. He denied the allegations and a party investigation later cleared Pincher of wrongdoing.
Pincher was brought back into the government by Boris Johnson after a period on the backbench, becoming a Foreign Office minister and then a housing minister.
Pincher was made deputy chief whip by Johnson. The Sunday Times reports that a male Tory MP informed the whips’ office at the time that Pincher had made an unwanted pass at him. Pincher has denied acting inappropriately. Conservative MPs have also said they informed their whips about general concerns about Pincher’s conduct.
The announcement of his promotion was delayed by a referral to the Cabinet Office propriety and ethics unit to investigate an allegation about Pincher that had been reported to the whips.
Pincher attended an event for the Conservative Friends of Cyprus at the Carlton Club in Piccadilly. He was accused by two men of drunkenly groping them and had to be put in a taxi home. One of them told another whip, Sarah Dines, who reported the matter to the chief whip, Chris Heaton-Harris.
Heaton-Harris investigated the incident and Pincher offered his resignation. The Sun reported in the evening that he had resigned as deputy chief whip and Pincher released a letter saying he had got drunk and embarrassed himself. Johnson declined to suspend him from the party saying the matter was closed.
No 10’s deputy official spokesperson insisted that the prime minister was not aware of any allegations against Pincher at the time of promoting him in February. He later corrected himself to say Johnson was not aware of any “specific” allegations against Pincher.
At least four more allegations against Pincher emerged in the Sunday papers, including accusations that he groped two Tory MPs. Pincher denied the allegations. A source in the whips’ office confirmed that a “matter” had in fact been raised with them in relation to Pincher at the time of his appointment to deputy chief whip.
No 10 acknowledge that Johnson had personally been aware of allegations against Pincher at the time of his promotion. Nevertheless, his spokesperson insisted that at the time these allegations were “either resolved or did not proceed to a formal complaint”. No 10 also declined to comment on a claim by former No 10 aide Dominic Cummings that Johnson had referred to his ally as “Pincher by name, pincher by nature”.
A charity fundraiser, Mark Dabbs, went on the record with an allegation about Pincher, telling the Sun that the MP had groped his backside while posing for a picture together. Pincher is yet to respond to allegations.