Boris Johnson failed to remember he had been told that Chris Pincher was the subject of a official complaint about his conduct, Downing Street said.
05 July 2022
Downing Street has confirmed Boris Johnson was informed that Chris Pincher had been investigated over his conduct when he was a Foreign Office minister.
No 10 had previously claimed the Prime Minister was not aware when he appointed him of any specific allegations against Mr Pincher, who resigned last week over claims that he groped two men at a private members’ club.
The latest disclosure comes after details emerged in the press over the weekend of further claims about alleged sexual advances to men – including two fellow Conservative MPs – over a period of years.
Here is a timeline of Mr Pincher’s political career and the allegations which he has denied to the newspapers which carried them.
– May 2010: Mr Pincher is elected Conservative MP for Tamworth in Staffordshire.
– 2012: A man alleges he was subjected to an unwanted advance from Mr Pincher when he was in his early 20s at an event in London, according to The Mail on Sunday.
– 2013: The same newspaper reported that a former parliamentary researcher alleges Mr Pincher threatened to report her to her boss after she tried to stop him pestering a young man at that year’s Conservative Party conference.
In the same year, a young man who had passed out at Mr Pincher’s flat after an evening of drinking allegedly wakes up to find the MP “on top of him”, a friend reportedly told The Sun.
– July 2016: Mr Pincher is appointed to the whips office by then-prime minister Theresa May.
– November 5 2017: Mr Pincher resigns and refers himself to the police and the Conservative Party complaints procedure after former Olympic rower and Tory activist Alex Story claimed the MP had made an unwanted sexual advance nine years beforehand.
Mr Pincher is also reported to have made an inappropriate advance towards former Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop.
Weeks after his resignation, Mr Pincher allegedly makes an unwanted pass at a junior Tory backbencher, according to the Sunday Times.
– December 23 2017: A Conservative Party investigating panel clears Mr Pincher of any breach of party rules.
– January 9 2018: Mr Pincher is appointed as the government deputy chief whip by Mrs May.
That year a young Conservative MP is said to have received an unwanted physical advance by the Tamworth MP in his parliamentary office, according to the Sunday Times.
Mr Pincher is also alleged to have made an unsolicited sexual approach towards a charity fundraiser at his constituency office, The Sun reported.
– July 2019: Boris Johnson appoints Mr Pincher as a foreign minister for Europe and the Americas in his first reshuffle after taking office as Prime Minister.
Shortly after the appointment a group of officials at the Foreign Office complained to the then-permanent secretary Sir Simon (now Lord) McDonald about his conduct.
The complaint was upheld, and Mr Pincher apologised and said there would be no repeat of such behaviour.
Around this time, he is alleged to have made an unwanted advance towards a young Tory activist after inviting him for drinks in his Tamworth constituency, according to the Sunday Times.
– Autumn 2019: Mr Pincher allegedly makes an unwanted advance to a Conservative member in his 20s at a bar during the party’s annual conference in Manchester, The Times reported.
– February 13 2020: Mr Pincher is appointed housing minister.
– 2021: Mr Pincher allegedly makes a pass at a young Tory activist during the Tory party conference in Manchester, according to The Times.
The Mail on Sunday reported that a young Conservative activist was “touched up” by Mr Pincher in a car.
A Conservative MP claims he was groped repeatedly by Mr Pincher near the Carlton Club in December, as well as in June this year within the parliamentary estate, according to The Independent.
– February 8 2022: Mr Pincher is appointed deputy chief whip alongside new chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris after they ran a shadow whipping operation to shore up support for Mr Johnson as MPs sought to oust him over partygate allegations.
The announcement of Mr Pincher’s appointment is delayed while the Cabinet Office propriety and ethics team carries out checks but no reason is found for it not to go ahead.
– June 30: Mr Pincher resigns as deputy chief whip after allegedly assaulting two fellow guests the evening before at the Carlton Club – a Tory private members’ club in London’s Piccadilly.
– July 1: Downing Street says Mr Johnson was not aware of any “specific allegations” about Mr Pincher when he appointed him to the whips office – a line that is repeated by ministers over the coming days.
At 5pm the Prime Minister finally bows to pressure and suspends the Tory whip after a formal complaint is made to Parliament’s watchdog that examines allegations of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct.
– July 4: Downing Street amends its position saying Mr Johnson had been aware of “speculation” about Mr Pincher but that any issues had either been resolved or were not the subject of a formal complaint.
– July 5: Lord McDonald submits a formal complaint to the parliamentary standards commissioner saying the No 10 account is still “not accurate” and Mr Johnson was briefed “in person” about the 2019 Foreign Office complaint.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman confirms Mr Johnson was told about the complaint “a number of months” after it had arisen.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis tells MPs the Prime Minister did not “immediately recall” the briefing when Mr Pincher resigned.