Boris Johnson was told ‘in person’ about Pincher complaint, claims former head of Diplomatic Service


Boris Johnson is pictured at an event in the No 10 garden yesterday – No 10 Downing Street

Boris Johnson was briefed “in person” about an investigation into an allegation of “inappropriate behavior” against Chris Pincher when the latter was a Foreign Office minister in 2019, the former head of the diplomatic service has claimed.

Lord Simon McDonald has accused No 10 of making untruthful statements about Mr Johnson’s handling of the scandal surrounding Mr Pincher who quit as deputy chief whip last week over claims he groped two men at a Conservative private members’ club.

It came as Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, confirmed Mr Pincher was subject to a Civil Service probe about his conduct in 2019 but it “did not recommend formal disciplinary action”.

Mr Raab, who was foreign secretary at the time, said that he spoke to Mr Pincher “about the inappropriate behavior and made it clear in no uncertain terms it should desist, it must never be repeated”.

Downing Street yesterday confirmed that Mr Johnson knew of concerns about Mr Pincher’s conduct when he made him deputy chief whip in February this year. However, No 10 said the claims the PM knew about were “either resolved or did not progress to a formal complaint”.

But Lord McDonald said in a letter sent to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone: “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. “

Follow the latest updates below.

09:19 AM

Dominic Raab ‘did not tell PM about Pincher complaint’

Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, said he did not tell Boris Johnson about the complaint made against Chris Pincher when the latter was a Foreign Office minister in 2019.

Mr Raab, who was foreign secretary at the time, said he did inform the chief whip.

Asked if he told the PM about the investigation, Mr Raab told Sky News: “No, and I wouldn’t expect to relate to something that fell below the bar of disciplinary action.

“What I did was inform the chief whip because I do think it is important that we keep a proper record and I referred it to the Cabinet Office Propriety and Ethics Team because I wanted the assurance and that is not to say that I disagreed with the view of the permanent secretary or the Civil Service but because I attach such importance to those around and those who work with us having the confidence in the processes which are there to protect them. ”

08:48 AM

Dominic Raab declines to set out nature of complaint

Dominic Raab was asked what the complaint was that was made against Chris Pincher when he was a Foreign Office minister in 2019.

But the Deputy Prime Minister refused to be drawn, telling Sky News: “Just because I am respecting the confidentiality of the processes and those involved I don’t think it is right for me to go into that.”

08:47 AM

Dominic Raab confirms Pincher Foreign Office complaint

Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, confirmed this morning that Chris Pincher was the subject of a complaint of “inappropriate behavior” when he was a Foreign Office minister in 2019.

Mr Raab, who was the foreign secretary at the time, said the complaint was investigated “under the Civil Service’s auspices” and it “did not recommend formal disciplinary action”.

Mr Raab said: “I spoke to Chris Pincher about the inappropriate behavior and made it clear in no uncertain terms it should desist, it must never be repeated, so did the permanent secretary.

“For additional assurance, because I take this so seriously, I also referred it to the Cabinet Office propriety and ethics team which also looked at it for example to see whether action was warranted under the ministerial code, they didn’t, they agreed that it didn’t warrant that.

“So although there was a complaint made about inappropriate behavior it did not trigger the disciplinary action either at the Civil Service level or the Cabinet Office level in relation to the code of conduct.”

08:46 AM

Lord McDonald’s letter in full

08:45 AM

Ex-Foreign Office chief: PM was briefed ‘in person’ about Pincher complaint

Lord Simon McDonald, the former permanent secretary and head of the Diplomatic Service at the Foreign Office, has claimed Boris Johnson was briefed “in person” about an investigation into an allegation of “inappropriate behavior” against Chris Pincher when the latter was a Foreign Office minister in 2019.

Lord McDonald of Salford has submitted a formal complaint to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone saying the account given by Downing Street of Mr Johnson’s handling of the scandal was “not true”.

In his letter Lord McDonald said: “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. “

Downing Street had said yesterday that Mr Johnson knew of concerns about Mr Pincher’s conduct when he made him deputy chief whip in February this year but the claims the PM knew about were “either resolved or did not progress to a formal complaint”.

08:26 AM

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to today’s politics live blog.

Boris Johnson is under growing pressure over his handling of the Chris Pincher scandal.

The PM will host a meeting of his Cabinet this morning but he is struggling to stabilize his premiership after the resignation of the deputy chief whip last week.

It promises to be a busy day in Westminster and I will guide you through the key developments.



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