Chris Pincher appealing against eight-week Commons suspension

Former Tory MP Chris Pincher is appealing an eight-week suspension – which was recommended after an investigation into groping claims made against him.

A letter from the Independent Expert Panel – which handles appeals against such rulings – confirmed his decision on Thursday night, hours before the deadline.

The allegations surfaced last summer when the then deputy chief whip was accused of assaulting two guests at the exclusive Carlton Club in London.

He resigned from his post and was later suspended by the Conservative Party.

The parliamentary watchdog launched its investigation in October, looking into whether Mr Pincher’s actions caused “significant damage to the reputation of the House” – a breach of the members’ code.

The Commons Standards Committee published its conclusions earlier this month, saying the MP’s conduct had been “completely inappropriate, profoundly damaging to the individuals concerned, and represented an abuse of power”, and that his actions would “significantly impact public perception of the House and its members”.

It recommended the eight-week suspension, which would likely trigger a by-election in his constituency of Tamworth, and Mr Pincher – who now sits as an independent – had until Thursday to launch an appeal.

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Last month, Mr Pincher resigned his post after he was accused of groping two men in a private members’ club.

In his response to the investigation, Mr Pincher said: “I apologise sincerely again for my behaviour at the Carlton Club last year, as I did the day I resigned from the government.

“I have sought professional medical help, which is ongoing and has been beneficial to me, for which I am grateful.

“I am truly grateful for the kindness that I have received from my constituents, family and friends.”

Watchdog’s findings

The watchdog gave details of the allegations against the MP in its report, with a House of Lords employee saying Mr Pincher had stroked his neck and squeezed his bottom.

The second complainant – a civil service – said he touched his bottom before moving his hand to touch and squeeze his testicles.

Mr Pincher told the investigation that he did not remember the events that took place that evening, but apologised to all parties involved.

However, he claimed he had returned to the club after the event in a personal capacity and denied his behaviour had caused significant damage to the reputation of the House and its members.

And he also claimed there were “inconsistencies, anomalies and gaps in the evidence” which he argued “don’t present a complete picture”.

But the standards commissioner, Daniel Greenberg, called his behaviour “shocking” and “deeply inappropriate”, and concluded Mr Pincher had breached paragraph 17 of the 2019 Code of Conduct for Members.

The Commons will have to agree any suspension before it takes place, but that will now be delayed while the appeal is heard and while MPs are on their summer recess.

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