Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said she was told Boris Johnson did not know the details as she was despatched to defend him.
03 July 2022
Boris Johnson did not know “specific claims” about Chris Pincher before appointing him deputy chief whip despite numerous sexual misconduct allegations, a Cabinet minister has argued.
Therese Coffey battled to defend the Prime Minister on Sunday over his decision to give the MP who has been stripped of the Conservative whip a key ministerial role.
Former No 10 adviser Dominic Cummings alleged that Mr Johnson had referred to the MP as “Pincher by name, pincher by nature” long before appointing him in February.
The MP for Tamworth in Staffordshire quit as Tory deputy chief whip after he was accused of drunkenly groping two men at a private members’ club in London this week.
The Prime Minister only bowed to pressure to remove the whip from his ally, meaning he is now sitting in the Commons as an independent, after an official investigation was launched.
Mr Pincher had already quit the whips office in 2017 after a complaint that he had made an unwanted pass at former Olympic rower and Conservative candidate Alex Story.
Mr Story, at the time a young Tory activist, alleged that year that the MP untucked the back of his shirt, massaged his neck and whispered “You’ll go far in the Tory Party”.
Ms Coffey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, was dispatched to defend the Prime Minister over what he knew and when.
“I am aware that the Prime Minister was not aware of specific claims that had been made,” she told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
“I don’t believe he was aware, that’s what I’ve been told today.”
She said she is not “part of the general chatter, rumour mill discussions” and was unaware of concerns about Mr Pincher, but added: “I don’t believe he’s been in a long-term relationship.”
Ms Coffey said “the leadership qualities of the Prime Minister are very evident” when questioned about Mr Johnson setting the standards amid numerous Tory sleaze scandals.