Chris Pincher: How No 10 changed its story based on what Boris Johnson understood

An ex-senior civil servant accused No 10, of lying when it claimed that the prime minister wasn't aware of specific allegations against Conservative MP Chris Pincher.

Chris Pincher: How No 10 changed its story based on what Boris Johnson understood

An ex-senior civil servant accused No 10, of lying when it claimed that the prime minister wasn't aware of specific allegations against Conservative MP Chris Pincher. This was before the appointment of him as deputy chief whip.

After being accused of sexual misconduct, Mr Pincher resigned on June 30th. He has been accused of misconduct by the Conservative MP for Tamworth before.

No 10 and a number of government ministers initially denied that Boris Johnson knew of specific complaints against Mr Pincher prior to appointing him deputy chief whip. (No. 10 is the office of the prime minister and briefs journalists in his name.

On Monday lunchtime, No 10 made a change in its position. A statement said that the prime minister was aware "of allegations that were either resolved" or didn't progress to a formal complain.

Lord McDonald, a former top civil servant of the Foreign Office, stated in a Tuesday morning letter that Mr Johnson had been briefed about a formal complaint into Mr Pincher’s conduct in 2019, while Mr Pincher was Foreign Office minister.

Now, the government confirms that Johnson was briefed at the time. However, it cannot "recall" the information when the latest allegations surfaced last week.

The Sun newspaper reported the story. Pincher resigned, and a senior Downing Street source said to BBC that Pincher was a loyal Conservative who recognized that Pincher had behaved badly and that he would not face any further action. He will also keep the party whip.

No 10 was asked if the prime minister knew about allegations prior to appointing Mr Pincher. He was briefed that no.

The spokesperson also stated that Johnson wasn't aware of any "specific allegations" against him.

They stated that all ministerial appointments were reviewed by the Cabinet Office Propriety and Ethics Team, who concluded that Mr Pincher was appointed on the basis of "unsubstantiated allegations".

On the evening 1 July, Mr Pincher, Conservative Party MP was suspended.

Therese Coffey, Work and Pensions Secretary, appeared on BBC's Sunday Programme and was asked if the prime minister knew about "allegations sexual misconduct against Chris Pincher" at the time he appointed him deputy chief whip.

She stated that she did not know of any specific allegations against Chris Pincher.

After answering a series of questions, she said that the information was from "somebody from Number 10's press office".

4 July

On the BBC's Today Programme, Will Quince, the minister for children & families, appeared. He was also asked if the prime minister knew of the allegations before he made the appointment.

He replied, "I knew you would ask this question." I asked No. 10 this morning and last night clearly for clarifications on this. I was given a categorical assurance by the prime minister that he wasn't aware of any particular allegation or complaint about the former chief whip [deputy] at the time he was appointed."

Later, Education Secretary Nadhim Zhawi stated that Chris Pincher's allegations, which he claimed date back to his time in Theresa May’s government, were "investigated" and "found not to be correct."

He repeated his assertion: "On specific allegations, prime minister did not understand."

No 10 had changed its position by Monday at 12:30 p.m. According to the official spokesperson of the prime minister, Johnson knew about "allegations that were either resolved quickly or not to a formal complaint". He also stated that it was not appropriate to terminate an appointment because of unsubstantiated claims.

Ione Wells, BBC Political Correspondent, revealed that Boris Johnson was informed of a formal complaint regarding Chris Pincher's "inappropriate behavior" when Mr Pincher was a Foreign Office Minister from 2019-20.

A disciplinary procedure was initiated to confirm his misconduct.

Lord McDonald's published a Twitter letter he had sent to the Parliamentary Commissioner of Standards. The letter stated that "The original No. 10 line is false and that the modification is still incorrect."

He also spoke on Today to explain that in 2019, a group of Foreign Office colleagues had told him that Pincher had behaved inappropriately. A complaint was filed and Pincher has apologised.

He said, "I briefed a senior Cabinet Office official." "I know the senior official briefed prime minister in person, because that official told I so at the time."

Dominic Raab was the foreign secretary at that time. He appeared on the same program a little earlier, but after the letter had already been published.

He claimed he didn't know that the prime minister was briefed.

He said, "That's new to me - I didn't know that."

Later, in Parliament Paymaster General Michael Ellis confirmed the allegations to the prime minister. However, he didn't use the phrase "formal complain" but said that "officials raised concerns".

"Last Week, when new allegations arose," he stated to MPs.

According to the official spokesperson for the prime minister, Johnson could not recall the briefing at first. It was described as a conversation and Johnson was asked about it Friday. However, it took some time "to determine the exact details".

When asked when No. 10 decided that the line last week was incorrect, he replied that it was "late Sunday or early Monday".

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