UK Business minister Nadhim Zahawi has said that it is “right” to wait for the conclusion of a police investigation into the claims
A government minister has defended the decision of the Conservative Party to not suspend an MP who was arrested on suspicion of rape.
The accused Member of Parliament, who is also a former minister, was taken to an east London police station after being arrested on Saturday morning; he was then released on bail later that day.
The Metropolitan Police have said that the allegations of sexual offences and assault against the Conservative MP related to four different incidents that are said to have taken place between July of 2019 and January of 2020.
This comes after the COVID-19 pandemic is “bubbling up” in up to 30 different areas throughout the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned.
Over the weekend, the Conservative Party were criticised for not immediately withdrawing the party whip from the MP accused of the crimes.
An MP who has the party whip withdrawn is effectively expelled from their party, but they get to keep their seat within the House of Commons. MPs who have had the party whip withdrawn must sit as an independent until the whip has been restored.
Critics have highlighted how Charlie Elphicke, who was found guilty last week of three counts of sexual assault by a court, did have the Conservative whip withdrawn in 2017 following the serious allegations that were made against him.
Elphicke controversially had the whip reinstated the following year when Theresa May faced a vote of no confidence, he then stood down as an MP before the general election last year.
On Monday Business minister Nadhim Zahawi defended the Conservatives Party’s decision to not withdraw the whip from the current MP arrested over allegations of sexual offences and assault on Saturday.
Mr Zahawi told Sky News:
“These are very serious allegations, there is a police investigation,”
“I think it is right for us to wait until the police conclude their investigation, and then you’ll be hearing from the chief whip as to what action will be taken.”
“It is only right that the police get to complete their investigations and then you will hear from the chief whip and hopefully all these questions will be asked,” he said.
“I think it’s completely wrong to go any further.”
This comes after Heathrow Airport is proposing a coronavirus testing plan in a bid to reduce the 14-day quarantines and get people travelling by plane as the travel sector suffers under the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Zahawi added: “I absolutely believe that sometimes, when the details are then released, people will begin to understand why the chief whip or the Conservative Party behaved or acted in a particular way.”
A spokesman for Mr Spencer said: “The chief whip takes all allegations of harassment and abuse extremely seriously and has strongly encouraged anybody who has approached him to contact the appropriate authorities, including parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, which can formally carry out independent and confidential investigations.”