Allegations that a Conservative MP committed a series of rapes are “very serious” and anyone with information about criminal activity should contact the police, Rishi Sunak has said.
The UK prime minister spoke out on Monday following reports that Sir Jake Berry, a former Tory chair, wrote to the police warning that a “failure of others to act” had allowed the accused MP to “continue to offend and to victimise women”.
Berry said there were up to five victims who had been “subject to a range of offences including multiple rapes” by the unnamed MP, according to the correspondence seen by the Mail on Sunday.
According to the newspaper, he also reportedly said in his letter that the matter had been “ongoing for over two years” and that he was aware that one individual linked to the allegations “was receiving ongoing support at the expense of the Conservative party”.
Berry learned of the allegations when he was appointed party chair in September 2022 and wrote the letter, co-signed by then-chief whip Wendy Morton, shortly after he left the role the following month, according to the Mail on Sunday.
Sunak insisted that the Tory party’s complaints procedures were “robust”, but he faces growing pressure to launch an investigation into the matter.
Anneliese Dodds, Labour party chair, said it was of the “utmost importance” that the “deeply concerning and extremely serious” allegations were thoroughly investigated by the Conservatives. “Failure to do so would be a failure of leadership and a dereliction of duty,” she said.
The Liberal Democrats’ chief whip Wendy Chamberlain also heaped pressure on Sunak and Greg Hands, the current Tory chair, to launch a probe.
“These reports are deeply disturbing to read. Nobody is above the law or reprimand for serious crimes such as those reported,” she said.
Chamberlain also said that if the accused individual is “still an MP”, the Conservative party should make clear what action it has taken to “ensure that appropriate safeguarding measures are in place to protect staff and constituents”.
On a visit to Norfolk, Sunak told broadcasters: “These are very serious, anonymous allegations.” He added that they may “allude to something that is already the subject of a live police investigation”, so insisted it “wouldn’t be right for me to comment on that further specifically”.
Claire Coutinho, the energy secretary, told Times Radio that the reported claims were “horrific” and echoed Sunak’s encouragement for “anyone that’s been through that kind of sexual assault” to “go to the police so they can be properly looked into”.
Her intervention came after deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden, who served as Tory chair between September 2021 and June 2022, said on Sunday that he was not aware of the allegations or the identity of the accused MP.
Dowden insisted the party had “zero tolerance” for sexual misconduct and told the BBC he rejected the suggestion the claims had been ignored, saying he did not “recognise in any form the idea that we covered up”.
Regarding the allegation that the party had paid for continuing support for an individual linked to the allegations, Dowden told Times Radio: “I’m not denying that it could be the case that those payments were made.” However, he insisted it was “not something that I authorised” or was “part of as chairman of the Conservative party”.
The Conservative party declined to comment. The FT attempted to reach Berry and Morton for comment.