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Conservative MP suspended after claims of watching porn in parliament

The chair of a parliamentary select committee has been suspended as a Conservative MP after being accused of watching pornography in the House of Commons chamber.

Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton in Devon and chair of the Commons environment, food and rural affairs select committee, was revealed on Friday by the Daily Telegraph as the subject of a complaint by two female MPs about his behaviour.

The claims first came to light at a meeting of MPs on Tuesday night in which female members shared their experiences of sexism in parliament.

The charge against Parish is being examined by the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) for Parliament, which was established in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal that hit parliament in 2017. It investigates complaints relating to current and former members of the parliamentary community such as staffers or MPs.

Parish has also reported himself to the standards committee of the House of Commons. A spokesperson for the Tory chief whip said: “Mr Parish has been suspended from the Conservative whip pending the outcome of that investigation.”

Parish did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Thangam Debbonaire, shadow leader of the Commons, said the Tories had known the identify of Parish for days. “This is a government rotting from the heads down,” she said. “Britain deserves better.”

The news comes just days after it emerged that the ICGS is looking at cases against 56 MPs. These 70 separate complaints include allegations of sexually inappropriate comments, bullying and even bribery.

Among those accused of misbehaviour are three cabinet ministers and two shadow cabinet ministers, who are all facing allegations of sexual misconduct.

On Friday morning a senior cabinet minister described how she was “pinned up against a wall” by a former Tory MP amid a wave of fresh claims about a toxic culture of sexual misconduct in parliament.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the international trade secretary, told colleagues to “keep your hands in your pockets” as she revealed that she had been subjected to “wandering hands” by half a dozen men in Westminster.

Trevelyan said most of her male colleagues were delightful, committed parliamentarians but said others believed that “they can suddenly please themselves” in parliament.

“We might describe it as wandering hands, if you like, we might describe it as, you know, a number of years ago being pinned up against a wall by a male MP who is now no longer in the House, I’m pleased to say, declaring that I must want him because he was a powerful man,” she told LBC Radio. “These sorts of things, these power abuses, that a very small minority, thank goodness, of male colleagues show is completely unacceptable.”

In the last month Imran Ahmad Khan, a Tory MP, resigned after being convicted of the sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy in 2008. David Warburton, another Conservative MP, had the whip suspended after it emerged that he was under investigation for alleged sexual harassment.

There has been further disquiet this week after the Mail on Sunday reported that a Tory MP had claimed that Angela Rayner, deputy Labour leader, tried to distract Boris Johnson during the weekly prime minister’s questions by crossing and uncrossing her legs. The unfounded claim was roundly rejected by MPs on both sides of the House.

Rayner is, meanwhile, under pressure herself after she belatedly admitted that she was at a controversial work meeting in Durham in April 2021 — during a Covid lockdown — where Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was photographed with a beer. The party said a previous denial had been “a mistake made in good faith”.

In response to a request by a Conservative MP, Durham Police have agreed to “make inquiries” with officers who first examined claims against Starmer and concluded he had broken no lockdown rules.

Some people in parliament have questioned the ICGS’s handling of complaints against Liam Byrne, a Labour MP who this week was suspended for two days from the Commons after being found guilty of bullying.

Witnesses who gave evidence against Byrne found out during the process that he had been handed their unredacted evidence, despite being assured their submissions would be treated confidentially, Politico revealed on Friday.

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