Rishi Sunak is facing a new by-election headache after a Tory MP told The Mail on Sunday he was stepping down after being implicated in a sex and drugs scandal.
David Warburton, 57, said he was resigning his seat because he was denied a fair hearing by the parliamentary harassment watchdog investigating allegations he made unwanted advances towards two women.
But in an exclusive interview with this newspaper, he admitted he took cocaine after drinking ‘incredibly strong’ Japanese whiskey with a third woman – who secretly photographed and recorded him visiting his flat after a late-night vote in the House of Commons.
‘I was set up, but I was naive and incredibly stupid,’ said Mr Warburton. He vehemently denied the harassment claim.
His exit, which follows that of Boris Johnson and his two allies just over a week ago, will trigger a by-election in the Somerset constituency of Somerton and Frome which Mr Warburton first held in 2015, securing the country’s biggest swing to the Tories. . He won again in 2019 with a majority of over 19,000.
David Warburton has admitted taking cocaine after drinking ‘incredibly strong’ Japanese whiskey with a third woman – who secretly photographed and recorded him going to his flat after a late-night vote in the House of Commons
‘I was set up, but I was naive and incredibly stupid,’ said Mr Warburton. He vehemently denied the harassment claim
The Prime Minister now has to fight four potentially damaging by-elections ahead of the party conference.
Today, Mr Warburton accused parliamentary authorities of being ‘terrible’ to the MeToo movement, saying he ‘didn’t stand a chance’ from the start. In his resignation letter, he said the ‘malicious allegations’ and ‘flawed’ 14-month investigation had ‘wreaked unimaginable and unbearable destruction on my family and myself’.
He added: ‘I am barred from revealing that the first inquiry against me was dismissed, that the claimant proved false or that the second claimant was a witness to the first and vice versa.
‘I have been prevented from saying that the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards in the rest of the cases [Daniel Greenberg] He himself has declared its year-long investigation ‘flawed’ – that it should be re-investigated – but we must accept it because of its own sluggish pace and delays.’
Mr Greenberg accepted the claims of a political aide who alleged the MP forced him back to his Westminster flat, where, he says, he kissed her on the forehead, stroked her hair and rubbed her thighs. She said he touched her bottom and thigh on separate occasions. Mr Warburton, who has appealed the inquest’s findings, denied her claims and said he sent her dozens of friendly texts in the days following the alleged harassment and offered to run errands while she was confined to bed with two broken ribs.
His wife, Harriet (pictured with him in 2013), said: ‘They cut off all David’s means of defence. I think the party completely left us out to dry’.
Today, Mr Warburton accused parliamentary authorities of being ‘panicked’ by the MeToo movement, saying he ‘didn’t stand a chance’ from the start.
Claims by the second woman – who said the MP fondled her and physically prevented her from leaving his flat – were rejected by parliamentary authorities. ‘He took pictures of himself pretending to be in my bathroom,’ she said. ‘But I was able to prove it was a fake.’
A third woman who photographed Mr Warburton with lines of cocaine he held in front of her never made a formal complaint. His claim – denied by the MP – was published in a newspaper, however. None of the women went to the police.
‘While they have aired their claims across the media, I have been prevented… from speaking,’ Mr Warburton said in his letter.
After the scandal broke, he contemplated suicide. Thoughts of his family pulled him back from the brink.
He claims that Mr. Greenberg ‘decided against considering my witnesses because they work for me, most of them, and can try to protect their jobs.
He said, describing my character and behavior towards women is enough to prove it. He thought I should face a heavy ban because I was unrepentant. I didn’t regret not doing it.’
Mr Warburton added: ‘My constituents who elected me have been deprived of the voice they needed for a year. I regret to provoke a by-election turmoil. I hope, by doing so, that I can freely illuminate the methods of a supervisory system that is not fit for purpose.’
His wife Harriet said: ‘They cut off all avenues of defense for David. I think the party has completely hung us out to dry.’
A Tory Party spokesman said: ‘The Independent Complaints and Complaints Scheme is an independent body established by Parliament and the Conservative Party respects its processes. Mr Warburton withdrew the whip over the allegations last April and has not sat in Parliament as a Conservative since.’
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