Boris Johnson’s claims he didn’t know about Chris Pincher allegations ‘demolished’ by senior official, SNP say

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Lord McDonald of Salford, the ex-permanent secretary at the Foreign Office, said the account given by Downing Street of how Mr Pincher came to be made deputy chief whip was “not true”.

The SNP have now demanded an investigation and accused the Prime Minister of having his claims “demolished”.

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SNP Shadow Cabinet Office spokesperson Brendan O’Hara MP said: “This evidence from a former senior official in the Foreign Office demolishes Boris Johnson’s claims and raises serious questions about whether he has lied and broken the ministerial code.”There must now be a full investigation. If the Prime Minister has lied, there is no question that he would have to resign.

The SNP said the Prime Minister’s claims were “demolished” by the letter.

“This once again places the spotlight on how utterly broken the Westminster system is and how Scotland would be better off with independence.”

The retired mandarin made a formal complaint to the parliamentary standards commissioner, and also published an open letter.

Lord McDonald said that in the summer of 2019, shortly after Mr Pincher was made Europe minister, a complaint by a group of officials about his conduct was investigated and upheld, and the Prime Minister informed of the outcome.

Downing Street initially claimed that Mr Johnson had not been aware of any “specific allegations” against Mr Pincher at the time of the February reshuffle.

But after reports over the weekend of repeated alleged instances of Mr Pincher making unwanted sexual advances to men, it said that while the Prime Minister had known of concerns, they had been either “resolved” or there had been no formal complaint and that any allegations were unsubstantiated.

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However, Lord McDonald said this was still not accurate.

He wrote: “Mr Johnson was briefed in person about the initiation and outcome of the investigation. There was a ‘formal complaint’.

“Allegations were ‘resolved’ only in the sense that the investigation was completed; Mr Pincher was not exonerated.

“To characterize the allegations as ‘unsubstantiated’ is therefore wrong.”

His claims appear to contrast the version of events from Dominic Raab, who told broadcasters Tuesday he had asked Lord McDonald to investigate a complaint of “inappropriate conduct” in October 2019 but that the mandarin had concluded disciplinary action was not warranted. He added: “That doesn’t mean that inappropriate behavior didn’t take place. We were clear that what happened was inappropriate, but we resolved it without going for a formal disciplinary process.”

Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner said it was clear that Mr Johnson had gone ahead with Mr Pincher’s appointment, despite being aware of the seriousness of the complaints against him.

“Boris Johnson’s desperate attempts to cover up what he knew about sexual assault complaints against Chris Pincher before appointing him have been blown out of the water,” she said in a statement.

“It is now clear that the Prime Minister knew about the seriousness of these complaints but decided to promote this man to a senior position in Government anyway. He refused to act and then lied about what he knew.

“Boris Johnson is dragging British democracy through the muck. His appalling judgment of him has made Westminster a less safe place to work.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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