Senior MP Julian Knight stays out of parliament after losing Tory whip over police complaint – but lashes out at ‘wrong and unwarranted’ action by party bosses and explodes ‘campaign of rumor and innuendo’ against him
- Julian Knight reveals he will stay out of parliament after complaint to police
- The senior MP has been suspended from the Conservative parliamentary party
- The Solihull MP lashes out at the ‘wrong and unjustified’ actions of party bosses
Senior MP Julian Knight revealed today that he will stay away from parliament after being reported to police.
The 50-year-old was dramatically suspended from the Tory parliamentary party last night after a complaint was made to Scotland Yard.
But – although he said he would ‘retire’ from parliament ‘until the matter is resolved’, the Solihull MP lashed out at party bosses for their ‘wrong and unjustified’ action.
In a series of Twitter posts, Mr Knight revealed that he had “heard nothing” from the police, whips’ office or parliamentary officials, or was the subject of any investigation.
He also claimed he was never “warned or spoken to” by Tory whips about misconduct allegations.
The former journalist launched a “campaign of rumor and innuendo” against him and furious over “blackmail” threats.
Mr Knight is chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee of the House of Representatives.
He did not turn up this morning when the committee questioned Arts Council England bosses, with Labor MP Julie Elliott standing in for him at the session.
Julian Knight has been dramatically suspended from the Tory faction after a complaint was made to Scotland Yard
The Solihull MP lashed out at party bosses in a series of Twitter posts for their ‘wrong and unjustified’ action
Chief Whip Simon Hart has suspended Mr Knight with ‘immediate effect’ after a complaint was made to the Met Police
By having the Tory whip suspended, Mr Knight will now sit in the House of Commons as an independent MP.
A spokeswoman for Government Chief Whip Simon Hart said last night that Mr Knight’s whip had been removed with ‘immediate effect’ after ‘a complaint was made to the Metropolitan Police this evening’.
Posting on Twitter this morning, Mr Knight was responding to the decision to take the Tory whip away from him.
“I have not heard from the police, the Whips Office or Parliament’s Internal Complaints Service, or been the subject of any inquiry by the latter,” he wrote.
“Nor have I ever been warned or spoken to by the Whips office about allegations of misconduct.
“I believe that withdrawing the whip is wrong and unjustified.
“Several months ago I accepted the resignation of a member of staff following a full inquiry into his conduct in relation to security issues in the House of Commons and, separately, allegations of bullying against him.
“I then received what my lawyers believe are explicit blackmail threats and are the center of a campaign of rumor and innuendo.
“All matters are now with my lawyers and I will withdraw from Parliament until the matter is resolved.”
The Tory whips’ office did not comment on Mr Knight’s criticism, although a party source insisted Mr Hart was in contact with him last night.
Mr Knight’s suspension is the latest in a series of blows to Rishi Sunak, who vowed to lead the country with ‘integrity’ when he became Tory leader and prime minister in October.
Former health secretary Matt Hancock was also stripped of the Tory whip when he flew to Australia to film ITV’s I’m A Celebrity show.
Gavin Williamson resigned as government minister last month over allegations of ‘bullying’.
And Mr Sunak has also had to accept a request from Dominic Raab, the deputy prime minister, to order an independent inquiry into allegations about his treatment of officials.
There are now 15 MPs in the House of Commons, several of whom have had their party’s whip suspended for disciplinary reasons, which is more than the total number of Liberal Democrat MPs.