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UK lawmaker from Johnson’s party suspended over sexual misconduct allegations

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Christopher Pincher (left) was appointed by British PM Boris Johnson (right) to enforce party discipline.

PHOTOS: REUTERS, AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has suspended a lawmaker who has become the party’s latest politician to become embroiled in accusations of sexual misconduct.

Christopher Pincher, whose role as Deputy Chief Whip involved enforcing party discipline, resigned from the government saying he had drunk too much, embarrassed himself and “caused upset” to people.

Pincher was suspended from the parliamentary party on Friday, said a spokesman for the party’s chief whip, who oversees discipline.

British media reported that Pincher had sexually assaulted two male guests at a London club.

Pincher did not respond to requests for comment.

“Having heard that a formal complaint has been made to the ICGS (the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme), the PM has agreed with the Chief Whip that the whip should be suspended from Chris Pincher while the investigation is ongoing,” the spokesman said.

In 2017, Pincher was cleared by an internal party complaints procedure after reports that he had made an unwanted pass at a former rower.

The prime minister’s spokesman earlier said that Johnson was not aware of any specific allegations when he appointed Pincher in his government role.

Last week, Johnson’s Conservatives lost two parliamentary seats in votes triggered by the resignations of two of his lawmakers in separate scandals related to sexual misconduct.

Another Conservative lawmaker has been arrested on suspicion of rape and other sexual offences and told to stay away from parliament while police investigate.

Johnson had been under pressure from some of his own lawmakers and opponents to suspend Pincher.

Two senior Conservative lawmakers, Caroline Nokes and Karen Bradley, had said that the party had an inconsistent and unclear approach to instances of sexual misconduct.

“The party and, by extension, the government are at risk of serious reputational damage by the current approach,” they wrote in a letter to Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris, calling for a zero-tolerance policy and for every case to be investigated.

“Anyone subject to such an investigation should not be allowed to sit as a Conservative MP.”

The opposition Labour Party’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, said the Conservatives were “sweeping a potential sexual assault under the carpet”.

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