Chief whip Mark Spencer was aware a senior Tory MP was in a sexual relationship with a woman when she made a complaint about his behaviour – but not that there was an allegation of sexual assault, it was claimed today.
Sources insisted that when Mr Spencer spoke to the woman in April he had not been told of any accusation of serious sexual abuse by the unnamed former minister.
Mr Spencer is facing questions over his handling of the case, with the Tories refusing to suspend the MP, who has now been arrested on suspicion of rape.
The woman, a former parliamentary aide in her 20s, has alleged she was assaulted and forced to have sex.
She claims that she was left so traumatised by their relationship last year that she ended up in hospital.
Supporters of the accused MP, who cannot be named, say he ‘totally’ denies the allegations after he was questioned and bailed by police. He has also been given the ‘100 per cent’ backing of his local party.
Sources insisted Mark Spencer had not been told of any accusation of serious sexual abuse by the former minister
Opposition politicians have condemned the ‘shocking’ decision not to withdraw the whip from the MP.
However, a senior Tory source told MailOnline that suspending the MP would inevitably lead to them being identified.
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.’
Mr Spencer is understood to be adamant that when he spoke to the woman she did not refer to any ‘serious sexual abuse’.
However, sources confirmed he was aware that the pair had a sexual relationship.
The alleged victim has hit out at the party for not taking swift action, telling The Times: ‘It’s insulting and shows they never cared.’
Women within the Tory ranks are demanding the Party takes action after a former Conservative MP was last week convicted of sexual assault in a separate case.
An ex-Tory minister told the Daily Telegraph: ‘I’m surprised the whip hasn’t been removed considering what happened to Charlie Elphicke. I think the chief has a lot to answer for.’
London’s Victims Commissioner, Claire Waxman, accused Boris Johnson of breaking a vow to treat abuse against women ‘seriously’.
The PM told MPs last year women ‘must have the confidence that crimes, domestic violence and sexual abuse, are treated seriously by our law enforcement system’.
Bur Ms Waxman warned on Twitter that ‘not suspending an MP accused of rape while investigations are ongoing conveys a different message’.
Asked about the situation in a round of interviews this morning, business minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News he did not know the details of the investigation.
‘There’s a victim here as well. I think it’s a right for us to wait until the police can do their investigation, and then you’ll be hearing from the chief whip as to what action will be taken,’ he said.
In a statement issued by the former minister’s local association, its chairman said the MP disputed the allegations.
Opposition politicians have condemned the ‘shocking’ decision not to withdraw the whip from the MP. Pictured, the Houses of Parliament today
‘[The MP] has made us aware of allegations made against him,’ they said.
‘He denies these totally. And this association give him our 100 per cent support.
‘Some of the officers of this association have known him for around 25 years and from our knowledge of him in a political and personal capacity we can’t accept that there is any truth whatsoever in these accusations.’
The Metropolitan Police said it had received allegations on Friday of sexual offences and assault relating to four separate incidents at addresses in London, including in Westminster, between July last year and January this year.
A spokesman said: ‘The Met has launched an investigation into the allegations.’
A man in his 50s was arrested on suspicion of rape and was taken into custody at an east London police station, the force added. He was later released on bail to a date in mid-August.