Politics

A week in Westminster: Sex scandal timeline

It is only a week since the first rumblings of a sex scandal sent political tremors through Westminster.

In seven days a minister has resigned and two further are under investigation, as Labour suspends a veteran MP.

Sky News explains how events unfolded from a self-contained WhatsApp group to an explosive scandal some think will be "bigger than expenses".

27 October Scandal breaks

Image:The claims started out in a Tory staff WhatsApp group

The story breaks with The Sun reporting that Tory researchers had set up a WhatsApp group naming "sex pest" MPs.

Cabinet ministers are said to among those mentioned, with predictions of a scandal in Parliament and the first senior MP being exposed by the weekend.

Theresa May calls the reports "deeply concerning", suggesting victims go to the police.

28 October First minister named

Mark Garnier admitted asking an ex-aide to buy sex toys
Image:Mark Garnier asked his secretary to buy him sex toys

International trade minister Mark Garnier becomes the first minister to be named. He admits to the Daily Mail calling his secretary "sugar t***" and getting her to buy him sex toys, but denies it was harassment.

Former Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb says he has been "foolish" to send explicit messages to a 19-year-old woman he interviewed for a job in 2013.

Downing Street is said to be "fearing the row could prompt an emergency Cabinet reshuffle".

29 October Investigations begin

The redacted spreadsheet of the alleged sexual activities of Tory MPs
Image:A redacted version of the spreadsheet was published

The floodgates open when the WhatsApp group becomes a spreadsheet, with Guido Fawkes revealing 36 MPs have been named.

The websites redacts personal information, but includes the full list of alleged behaviour – including "handsy in taxis", "paid a female to be quiet" and "inappropriate with male researchers and heavy drinker".

As the gravity of the scandal begins to sink in, Mrs May writes a letter to John Bercow calling for a binding code of conduct for all MPs, and says it is "vital" Parliament retains the confidence of its staff and the public.

30 October Spreadsheet spreads

Andrea Leadsom
Image:Andrea Leadsom issued a warning to MPs

The unredacted spreadsheet begins circulating round Westminster and the media – making some MPs aware they are named on it.

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom issues a veiled warning to everyone in the House.

"I am setting the bar significantly below criminal activity," she says.

"In the case of staff they could forfeit their job, in the case of MPs, they could have the whip withdrawn and they could be fired from ministerial office."

31 October Fallon apologises

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon leaving Downing Street after a Cabinet meeting
Image:Sir Michael Fallon apologised for touching a journalist's knee

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon becomes the first Cabinet minister to become directly involved in the scandal.

He admits to and apologises for touching a journalist's knee in an incident at a party conference dinner in 2002.

Video:Michael Fallon is the victim of a 'witch hunt'

Mrs May's spokesman is forced to say the PM has "confidence in her Government and ministers".

Meanwhile, Labour activist Bex Bailey says she was discouraged from reporting a rape allegation against and by party officials.

1 November First resignation

First Secretary of State Damien Green has been accused of acting inappropriately
Image:Damien Green was included on the spreadsheet

The scandal claims its first scalp. Sir Michael Fallon quits as Defence Secretary, saying that his behaviour had "fallen below" the high standards expected of him.

Mrs May's de facto deputy, Damien Green, is also named by The Sun as being on the spreadsheet, but denies any wrongdoing. A senior Tory MP calls for him to stand down while an investigation is underway.

Two ministers – Dominc Rabb and Rory Stewart – reveal their names were listed too, but say they have done nothing wrong.

3 November Labour MP suspended

Kelvin Hopkins
Image:Kelvin Hopkins was the second MP suspended by Labour

Commons veteran Kelvin Hopkins issuspended by Labour pending an investigation into allegations he inappropriately touched a Labour activist and sent her suggestive text messages.

In a statement, the left-wing MP for Luton North says: "I absolutely and categorically deny that I in any way engaged in any such inappropriate conduct."

Jeremy Corbyn refuses to reveal whether he knew of claims against Mr Hopkins before promoting him to the shadow cabinet.

Jeremy Corbyn
Video:Corbyn refuses to discuss suspended Labour MP

Tory MP Charlie Elphicke has his whip suspended and is referred to the police over "serious allegations".

The senior backbencher tweets: "The party tipped off the press before telling me of my suspension. I am not aware of what the alleged claims are and deny any wrongdoing."

Meanwhile, Sir Michael is put back in the spotlight by claims he was forced out of the Cabinet after Ms Leadsom compiled a dossier of allegations against him.

The former defence secretary denies making a suggestion when Ms Leadsom complained of having cold hands.

Later, Labour MP Clive Lewis is accused of inappropriately touching an activist at a Momentum event, a claim he strongly denies.

The party launches a investigation into the formal complaint, but chooses not to suspend the Norwich South MP.

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