The Conservative Party’s chief whip is investigating reports that a Tory MP watched pornography on his phone in the Commons chamber.
The party’s whips office said on Wednesday evening the chief whip "has asked that this matter be referred to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS)".
"Upon the conclusion of any ICGS investigation, the chief whip will take appropriate action," the chief whip’s spokesman added.
It is believed the accusation was made during a meeting of the 2022 yesterday – the female grouping of the 1922 group of Conservative backbench MPs.
Around 50 to 60 female Conservative MPs are said to have been present at the meeting.
Sky News understands that two individuals in attendance told Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris how they had witnessed an MP watching pornography both in the chamber and in a committee.
It comes in response to reports in The Sun and Daily Mirror that the MP – reported to be a Tory frontbencher – was watching pornography on a mobile phone while sitting alongside a female minister.
One MP in attendance told Sky News that Mr Heaton-Harris looked "horrified" and asked for the man’s identity.
Pressed on the matter later on Wednesday, the PM’s press secretary told reporters: "Obviously, it is wholly unacceptable behaviour and it is being looked into."
The government’s safeguarding minister, Rachel Maclean, told Sky News she was in the 2022 meeting and said "none of us could believe our ears…we were just all shocked and horrified".
She added that she wanted to see the MP "out of parliament, out of the party", and added: "There’s no place for this in our party."
Asked if Sir Keir Starmer had any views on the matter, a Labour Party spokesman said: "Yeah, it’s a sackable offence."
According to Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby, the women have subsequently spoken to the chief whip and named the man.
The Mirror newspaper reports that those also in attendance at the meeting included Tory party chairman Oliver Dowden, Commons Leader Mark Spencer and former prime minister Theresa May.
Sexual misconduct ‘grounds for dismissal’
The meeting came amid reports that dozens of MPs, including three Cabinet ministers, are facing allegations of sexual misconduct referred to the Independent Complaints and Grievances Scheme (ICGS).
The scheme was set up in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement and is Parliament’s mechanism for handling complaints of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct.
The Sunday Times newspaper reported over the weekend that the 56 MPs face allegations ranging from making sexually inappropriate comments to more serious wrongdoing.
Asked about the newspaper’s original report at Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson agreed that sexual misconduct would be "grounds for dismissal" for ministers.
Appearing on Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday programme last weekend, Conservative Party chairman Mr Dowden was asked if Westminster is a safe place to be a woman.
"I think actually we’ve made big improvements over the past 20 or 30 years," he said.
"Some of the things that happened, I’m sure, when you were a young reporter and when I started out in Westminster certainly wouldn’t happen now, and I think that’s something that has improved very much for the better."
Rayner hits back at ‘misogynistic’ article
Meanwhile, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner condemned a "sexist" and "misogynistic" Mail on Sunday article which claimed Tory MPs have accused her of a ‘Basic Instinct’ ploy to distract the PM.
In response to the article in last weekend’s Mail on Sunday, the prime minister tweeted that he respected Ms Rayner and deplored the "misogyny directed at her anonymously today".
The editor of the Mail on Sunday refused to meet the Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle over the newspaper’s "misogynistic" report.
David Dillon declined an invitation to meet Sir Lindsay Hoyle to discuss anonymous claims published in the newspaper, stating in a letter he would not be attending the meeting because journalists should "not take instruction from officials of the House of Commons, however august they may be".
© Sky News 2022