Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, has faced criticism for saying she “doesn’t believe” a fellow Tory MP was smacked on her backside by the prime minister’s father.
During a panel discussion on Sky News earlier this month, Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Nokes alleged that Stanley Johnson had inappropriately touched her at a Conservative Party Conference.
She told the broadcaster’s political editor, Beth Rigby: “I can remember a really prominent man smacking me on the backside about as hard as he could and go, ‘oh, Romsey, you’ve got a lovely seat’.
“Stanley Johnson did that to me ahead of the ’05 election, so it was Blackpool – I don’t know what year – 2003.”
Mr Johnson has also faced an accusation from Ailbhe Rea, political correspondent at the New Statesman, who alleged on Twitter that the former MEP “groped” her at Conservative Party Conference in 2019.
In response to the allegations, the 81-year-old told The Sun: “I have no recollection of Caroline Nokes, and no idea what she was talking about.
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“Had I been asked about the allegation made by the journalist of the New Statesman, I would have said the same thing.”
Meanwhile, Number 10 declined to comment on allegations against a “private individual”.
In the latest development, Ms Dorries commented on Ms Nokes’ allegation and told a Daily Mail journalist: “I don’t believe it happened.”
The Mid Bedfordshire MP, who left her constituents unrepresented when she went on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here in 2012, said: “I have known Stanley for 15 years. He is a gentleman.
“It never happened to me. Maybe there is something wrong with me.”
Or maybe you’re not handling the situation with the level of sincerity it requires, Nadine.
Either way, people have since taken to Twitter to point out what’s wrong and “dangerous” around her comments:
Ms Nokes responded to the culture secretary’s comments by criticising her for having “used her considerable influence and power in the media to denounce me in this way”.
“I very much hope her attitude does not deter other women from being brave enough to report their experiences of public sexual harassment,” the former home office minister said.
Ms Dorries isn’t the only one to have sparked a backlash for comments on the allegations, after journalist Isabel Oakeshott wrote on Twitter that police officers “should focus their limited resources on investigating real crimes”.