Senior Conservatives demand inquiry into claims of cover up over Tory MP rape allegations

Senior Conservatives have called for an internal investigation into claims the party covered up allegations of rape against one of their MPs.

David Davis and other senior Tories told The Independent that current Tory chairman Greg Hands should investigate claims that predecessor Sir Jake Berry told police of the party’s “failure” to act on the allegations.

The ex-cabinet minister warned that any cover up would be “a criminal offence”, amid claims that Tory lawyers had covered the cost of treatment for one of the alleged victims at a private hospital.

Alicia Kearns, chair of the foreign affairs select committee, also called for a “full investigation” into the claims – saying the party had to demonstrate “zero tolerance” for sexual assault.

And Tory peer Baroness Warsi said the allegations should be probe “quickly and coherently” – accusing her party of having a “problem” in handling sexual misconduct and bullying allegations.

It comes as:

  • Rishi Sunak said alleged victims should “talk to the police” as he addressed the claims for the first time

  • The Tories were accused of having “rot” at the heart of the party by failing to tackle sexual misconduct

  • But the PM insisted that Tory complaints process were “robust”

  • Labour and the Lib Dems called for the PM to launch a party probe into “disturbing” claims

On Monday, speaking on a visit to Norfolk, Mr Sunak described allegations that a Tory MP committed a series of rapes as “very serious”, as he urged anyone with evidence of criminal acts to talk to the police.

The PM also claimed the Tory party has “robust, independent complaint procedures in place”, before adding: “I would say to anybody who has information or evidence about any criminal acts to of course talk to police – that’s the right course of action.”

According to a copy of a letter obtained by the Mail On Sunday, Sir Jake told police that he found out about the alleged assaults when he discovered the Tories had covered the cost of treatment for one of the supposed victims at a private hospital.

Tory chairman Greg Hands under pressure to investigate claims (EPA)
Tory chairman Greg Hands under pressure to investigate claims (EPA)

Mr Berry, chair during Liz Truss’s brief tenure as PM last year, reportedly wrote to police shortly after leaving the chair’s job in October 2022, along with former chief whip Wendy Morton.

An excerpt from the letter reads: “There may have been five victims of X – who have been subject to a range of offences including multiple rapes.”

The letter adds that the “failure of others to act has enabled X to continue to offend”, and says the claims of rapes and assaults had been going on for more than two years.

Ms Kearns told The Independent: “There should be a full investigation into the concerns raised by Jake Berry and the circumstances when concerns were originally reported.

The senior Tory added: “There can be zero tolerance for sexual assault, and if anyone failed to adequately investigate at the time they should face an investigation by the standards committee and internal party processes.”

Rishi Sunak insisted Tory complaints processes were ‘robust’ (PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak insisted Tory complaints processes were ‘robust’ (PA Wire)

Mr Davis told The Independent: “Covering up would be a criminal offence. Not reporting is one thing, but actively concealing it would be a different matter.”

The former cabinet minister said Mr Hands should investigate the claims. “I suspect that’s what is happening, though he wouldn’t make it public.”

He added: “We need to be careful – we don’t know truth in this case. There are concerns about how the Commons mechanism for complaints works very well. It needs to be looked at.”

Baroness Warsi, a Conservative peer, told Times Radio the Tories have “a problem” dealing with allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct – as she spoke out about the “rot” at the heart of the party.

“I think it does have a problem” she said. “Whether it’s bullying, whether it’s allegations of racism and now allegations of sexual misconduct, the party for years and years has simply failed to deal with responding to victims appropriately in all of those areas.”

“We cannot be the party of government which governs in this country more than any other political party and still have this rot at the heart of us, whether that’s racism, whether that’s bullying, whether that’s sexual misconduct.”

The influential Tory peer said complaints had to “come to light” and be handled “quickly and coherently” for alleged victims to feel protected.

Tory peer Baroness Warsi says ‘rot’ at heart of the party (Getty)
Tory peer Baroness Warsi says ‘rot’ at heart of the party (Getty)

Deputy PM and former Tory chair Oliver Dowden told the BBC on Sunday that he was not aware of the allegations and did not recognise “the idea that we covered up”.

But Mr Dowden said he could not rule out that the party might have paid for treatment for an alleged victim.

He told Times Radio: “I’m not denying that it could be the case that those payments were made, but it is not something that I authorised or [was] part of as chairman of the Conservative Party.”

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have called on Mr Sunak and Mr Hands to launch an investigation to get to the bottom of the matter. “It is of the utmost importance that this is thoroughly investigated by the Conservative Party,” said Labour chair Anneliese Dodds.

Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said the claims were “disturbing”, adding: “The prime minister and Conservative Party chairman must launch an investigation into this.”

Energy security secretary Claire Coutinho said complainants should “go to the police” with any allegations of rape against a Tory MP.

It is not known whether any alleged victims reported the MP to Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS).

A spokesperson for the Commons authorities said ICGS “operates on the basis of confidentiality for the benefit of all parties”, adding: “Therefore, we cannot provide any information on any complaint, including whether or not a complaint has been received.”

The Conservative Party said it would not be commenting.