Conor Burns ‘2017 harassment claim’ made

Conor Burns - Liam McBurney/Getty Images Europe
Conor Burns – Liam McBurney/Getty Images Europe

The Conservatives faced further sleaze allegations on Friday night after it emerged that Conor Burns was allegedly the subject of an unproven sexual harassment complaint five years before he was sacked last week.

Channel 4 News reported that a claim was made against him in 2017, five years before he was dismissed last week for alleged inappropriate behaviour at this year’s Conservative Party conference.

Downing Street said Liz Truss was not made aware of the 2017 sexual harassment claim when she appointed the former minister to her Government on Sept 7.

Mr Burns denied the latest allegation, saying it was “without merit” and was withdrawn “almost immediately” before an investigation even took place.

He told Channel 4 News that the complaint was never put to him and that it was made by a “bad faith actor motivated by malice”.

The 2017 claim is separate from the alleged incident at a hotel bar in Birmingham at the Tory conference earlier this month that led to him being sacked as trade minister. Mr Burns also strenuously denies this claim.

A spokesman for the Conservative Party confirmed that it had received a complaint of sexual harassment against the MP in 2017, and a formal process was initiated. The complaint was referred to the party from the Chief Whip’s office.

Channel 4 News said the 2017 allegation was withdrawn by the complainant because of a lack of confidence in the complaints process. The party said that, with “due regard for due process”, it could not continue with the investigation after that.

A Conservative spokesman told The Telegraph: “We are unable to comment further.”

Mr Burns, 50, was sacked last week and had the Tory whip removed while allegations of inappropriate behaviour during the conference are investigated. Downing Street said Ms Truss “took direct action on being informed of this allegation”.

He said: “I will fully cooperate with the party’s inquiry and look forward to clearing my name.”

In a string of tweets, he said he was not given any information about the complaint, “nor was I asked to provide any information”, adding: “I hope the party will be as quick to conduct their inquiry as they were to rush to judgment”.

The LGBT+ Conservatives suspended Mr Burns as a patron “pending the conclusion of investigations”.

Published by anthonyhayble

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