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Boris Johnson thought an MP now accused of groping two men was the “best fit” for a top job – despite allegations about him being raised BEFORE he got it.

The Prime Minister today exchanged “private messages” with Chris Pincher after the Deputy Chief Whip resigned for “drinking too much” and “embarrassing himself and others” at a private members’ club on Wednesday.

But despite calls to remove him as a Tory MP, Downing Street refused to say the Prime Minister will open an investigation or even publish a formal response letter.

“I’m not going to get into details of those specific messages,” a spokesman said. No10 added Boris Johnson would urge any complainants to take a formal case to Parliament’s independent panel.

Mr Pincher will get a £7,920 golden goodbye – a quarter of his annual whip’s salary – that goes to all ministers who are ousted for more than three weeks, regardless of why.

The PM’s deputy official spokesman admitted “allegations” were raised at the time Mr Pincher got his whips’ office job in February’s Cabinet reshuffle.

Those allegations were sent to the Cabinet Office’s propriety and ethics team, but the team cleared the appointment of Mr Pincher because they were “unsubstantiated”.

Chris Pincher

“In the absence of any formal complaint it was not appropriate to stop the appointment on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations,” the deputy spokesman said.

Despite three sources telling Politico the PM was made aware of allegations against Mr Pincher during the reshuffle, Downing Street today tried to insist he was not.

The spokesman said: “The Prime Minister was not aware of any allegation before the appointment was made.”

However, the spokesman later suggested he had “mis-spoken”, and corrected himself to say the PM was not aware of any “specific allegation”.

The spokesman did not clarify what specific allegation the Prime Minister was unaware of.

Calls are mounting to suspend the whip from Chris Pincher after he resigned his government job last night.

MPs accused Mr Pincher of “groping” two men in the glitzy Carlton private members’ club on London’s Piccadilly on Wednesday night, The Sun revealed.

Boris Johnson is facing the crisis after returning from summits in Europe, pictured ( POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Pincher said he had been “drinking too much” and “embarrassing himself and others” – but he remains a Tory MP as of 9am today.

Labour branded the PM’s response a “total disgrace” – including an anonymous ally’s briefing that there was “no need for an investigation and no need to suspend the whip”.

Mr Pincher had previously resigned from the whips’ office in 2017 and referred himself to police after a former Olympic rower accused him of an unwanted sexual pass.

Alex Story alleged Pincher took him to his flat, massaged his neck and tried to untuck his shirt while saying: “You will go far in the Conservative Party.”

MPs accused Mr Pincher of “groping” two men in the glitzy Carlton private members’ club, pictured ( Google Streetview)

Mr Pincher was later cleared of wrongdoing over the incident in 2001, before he was an MP, by a Conservative probe.

Two of the Tories’ most prominent female MPs today blasted their party’s “inconsistent and unclear approach” to sexual misconduct.

Caroline Nokes and Karen Bradley warned recent cases could cause “serious reputational damage” to the government in a letter to the Chief Whip.

The Equalities and Procedure committee chiefs demanded a code of conduct for all Tory MPs and a “zero-tolerance” approach to allegations in which any MP loses the whip while under investigation.

The PM’s deputy official spokesman suggested that despite allegations being referred to an ethics team, Mr Pincher was the “best fit” for the job – which includes liaising with MPs over their welfare.

“The Prime Minister always looks to appoint those who he thinks are the best fit for different positions in government, he has done that throughout his time as Prime Minister,” the spokesman said.

The PM’s deputy official spokesman suggested that despite allegations being referred to an ethics team, Mr Pincher was the “best fit” for the job ( Tamworth Herald)
Resignation letter from Christopher Pincher as he resigns as Deputy Chief Whip

He encouraged any alleged victims to make a full complaint to Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, which has no link to No10.

The spokesman said: “Of course the Prime Minister thinks that sort of behaviour is unacceptable and he would encourage those who wish to make a complaint to do so.”

However, he declined to say the government or Tories would investigate if no formal complaints are made, describing the situation as “hypothetical”.

Asked if Mr Pincher should resign as an MP the spokesman said: “That would be a matter for him as an individual, his constituents and the political party”.

Asked if being drunk was an excuse for groping people the PM’s spokesman replied: “No”.

A former Tory minister told the Mirror the whip should be suspended now, saying: “The victims of this behaviour deserve more respect.

“This shows the Government does not take sexual violence seriously enough.”

A former Cabinet minister, who had been friendly with Mr Pincher, told the Mirror: “You have to separate your own personal friendships with people.

“You have got to put it to one side and say hold on, I assume people have made a complaint about being assaulted. And being objective, you have to put them first.

“The question is whether the complainants themselves wish to pursue the matter.

“If the matter is to be pursued and there is to be a due process then surely suspension must follow.”

Cabinet minister Simon Hart, speaking at 8am, said he was not aware of a probe yet – but hinted Mr Pincher may not have the whip by the end of the day.

“Let’s let today play out, let the Chief Whip do his duty today and I think we might be having a very different conversation as the day goes on about this,” he said.

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