Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Accused MP should not be named til charged (but should not be protected)

The news that a Tory MP  A leading Tory MP has been  arrested on suspicion of raping and sexually assaulting a Commons researcher in the latest abuse scandal to hit the Government.

As the former Minister was being held in custody in an East London police station, his accuser – a woman in her 20s – was being interviewed by Scotland Yard officers yesterday at a separate location. may have sparked speculation but unless or when he is charged believe if it is possible his name should be not discloses.

It is of course a difficult decision disclosure could ruin an innocent man political career , whilst the alleged victim  accusation must be taken seriously and not at all dismissed or see her face a combined  effort  by the establishment to protect one of their own,

For this reason I reluctantly  feel that the  decision not to suspend the accused rapist is the right one  as to do so would fd facto name him.

Not that the Tories have handled it well seemingly seeking protect one of thier own.

 The Mail reports that 

The claims have caused consternation in the party, with one senior Conservative politician said to have been 'close to tears' after being informed of the allegations.

It is likely to increase pressure on Tory Chief Whip Mark Spencer, who failed to take action against the MP, who cannot be named for legal reasons, when he was told about the allegations a month ago. 

Mr Spencer last night said the woman had reported 'abusive behaviour and threats', but he does not believe there was any mention of sexual assault during the discussion.

If that is case then the MP  should have been suspended  because of the  claims of abusive behaviour anyway 

The Mail also says

 The latest potential sex scandal to hit Westminster will thrust Mark Spencer, Boris Johnson's little-known Chief Whip, reluctantly into the spotlight.

The job traditionally requires a mixture of charm, aggression and a complete command of the dark arts – skills displayed to varying degrees by recent occupants of the post such as Michael Gove and Gavin Williamson

But the job – memorably immortalised in the fictional form of Francis Urquhart in the House Of Cards novels and television series – also requires the holder to be the political equivalent of a bomb disposal expert.

So there is likely to be dismay in Downing Street if another sex scandal has not been properly dealt with by the Whips Office.

Mr Spencer is not a natural Urquhart: a former dairy farmer who first entered the Commons in 2010, he has been described as 'one of the nicest people in the parliamentary Conservative party' – usually a disqualification for the post.

Mr Spencer backed Remain in the 2016 EU referendum, before switching tactically to backing Brexit under Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

Mr Spencer, who lives with his wife and children in Nottinghamshire, has played in goal for the Commons football team.

But if the rape investigation leads to another Tory MP losing the whip – or even his liberty – Mr Spencer could lose his slightly dull reputation as a safe pair of hands.

As I pointed out above  Mr Spencer could and should have suspended  the MP over  the claims of abusive behaviour  and any rape investigation left to the police   the suspended MP may still be protected from full disclosure unless he is charged.

Both the accused and accuser deserve  that the process of justice be adhered due.
It will not be helped by the immediate naming of the accused  (however an unpleasant an individual he is) until any charges named.

However the accuser needs to know that her accusation are taken seriously by both the police and the Tory party and whoever her alleged abuser is it should not  be a consideration to protect him or his parties reputation.

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