An MP who had the Tory whip suspended and was reported to the police has claimed the process being followed by the party is “fundamentally wrong” because he still does not know what he is accused of.
Charlie Elphicke used a speech to his local Conservative association to claim he faced the “denial of justice” in an outspoken attack on the way his case was handled.
Mr Elphicke – who denies any criminal wrongdoing – claims the press were tipped off about the action being taken against him before he was told and the whole area of reporting allegations of misconduct is a “mess”.
Commons Speaker John Bercow also stressed that people accused of wrongdoing had a right to know the case against them – and should not have to find out through the media.
Mr Bercow said it was “predictable” there would be a tragedy such as the death of Carl Sargeant, the former Welsh government minister who is understood to have taken his own life after being accused of “unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping” without being given the full details of the allegations he faced.
Mr Elphicke was suspended by chief whip Julian Smith in one of his first acts in the job and the allegations he faced were passed to the police.
In a statement to the Dover and Deal Conservative Association on Thursday evening, Mr Elphicke hit back at his treatment by Mr Smith and Prime Minister Theresa May.
He was told on Friday evening by a journalist that he was having the whip withdrawn and then “minutes later” was called by the chief whip “telling me that serious allegations had been made against me earlier that week and that these had been passed to the police”.
“I asked what the allegations were and he would not tell me. He only said that he and the Prime Minister had decided the whip should be suspended from me. As we spoke, the news spread across the national media.
“And that is all I can tell you. Since then I have had no further information. And here we are. So extraordinary as it may seem I am no wiser now than I was on Friday evening when the chief whip called me.”
He added: “I have every sympathy with people who have been harassed or victimised and feel they have nowhere to turn. That is a denial of justice.
“It is also a denial of justice when people who have had allegations made against them, lose their job or their party whip without knowing what those allegations are.”
At an event with students at Queen Mary University London, Mr Bercow said: “In terms of protection of the frailties of the accused, I think that’s incredibly important in light of what has happened in Wales, but it was predictable.
“Even if people are suspected of wrongdoing, they may well need, and should be given help, understanding, support.”
He added: “If a Member is going to be sacked or denied the whip of his or her party, for God’s sake that Member is entitled to know of what he or she is accused.
“And that Member is entitled to learn – if a judgment has been made about suspension or dismissal – of that suspension or dismissal first hand, not first through the media.”
Mr Bercow said he hoped the impact of the sexual harassment allegations in Parliament would not be as great as the expenses scandal.