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Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
UK News

Christian ex-minister becomes first Tory MP investigated under party's new code

by Press Association

The Ex-Welsh secretary apologised for sending explicit texts to a woman he interviewed for a job in 2013 when she was 19-years-old and admitted he had said "some pretty outrageous things" to the woman after meeting her.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has signalled MPs found guilty of sexual harassment could be kicked out of the Commons under a tough new crackdown.

Ms Rudd predicted that the wave of sleaze allegations sweeping Westminster would lead to a positive "clear-out" which would leave Parliament and the Government in better shape.

The Home Secretary said she wanted the sanction of sacking MPs to be considered as part of a major overhaul of anti-harassment procedures at Westminster.

She told Sky News: "I think that that is one of the things that I would encourage the review to look at. It may be the case, it may not.
"It is wrong for us to have a knee-jerk reaction based on the past week. I think what we need to do is look at the whole issue. There needs to be a procedure put in place as soon as possible."

Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire

The Home Secretary said Westminster was undergoing a "watershed moment".

Her comments came as it emerged three more Tory MPs are to have allegations against them looked into by officials.

Ms Rudd described as "disgusting" an incident in which former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon is alleged to have lunged at a journalist and tried to kiss her on the lips.

The comments came after Jane Merrick alleged in The Observer that the incident took place after a 2003 lunch when she was a 29-year-old junior political reporter.
Asked if such behaviour was disgusting, Ms Rudd told Sky News: "Completely disgusting. Absolutely wrong. And it was right that he has stepped down."

Ms Merrick contacted Downing Street about her claims just hours before Sir Michael's shock resignation.

Ms Rudd insisted the end result of the spate of claims about inappropriate behaviour that has rocked politics will be positive.

The Home Secretary told BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show: "I think it is something that will take place in terms of clearing out Westminster of that sort of behaviour.

"And I think that Westminster afterwards, including the Government, will be better for it.

"When we are confident that men and women can work in a respectful environment and people who have been on the receiving end of abuse of power can come forward, that will be a positive thing."

As the swirl of Westminster allegations continued to spiral, Conservative former minister Anna Soubry said the Prime Minister should call in Tory whips and find out what information they have on MPs.

"Allegations of a criminal nature must go straight to the police," she told the BBC.

The Home Secretary denied that Tory whips keep a "black book" detailing the wrongdoings of MPs.

Ms Rudd said: "Of course the whips office should share the information with the Prime Minister, but I'm also saying there isn't the, sort of, black book in operation that is sometimes suggested."

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