A Labour Party spokesperson has said that watching pornography in the Commons is a “sackable offence” as the Conservative Party chief whip investigates reports that a Tory MP was seen watching porn on his phone in the chamber.
An investigation has been launched after female Tory MPs met Chris Heaton-Harris on Monday night to complain about sexism in parliament, with one alleging that a male colleague was watching porn while sitting next to them in the Commons.
The office of Heaton-Harris, the government’s chief whip, released a statement today stating that “the chief whip is looking into this matter”, describing the behaviour as “wholly unacceptable” and adding that “action will be taken”.
The group of between 12 to 14 Conservative MP shared their experiences of sexist behaviour among Tory male colleagues, telling Heaton-Harris that something must be done and calling for action against three cabinet ministers who are reportedly subject to inquiries about inappropriate sexual behaviour.
The male Tory MP was not named by his colleagues but there are reports that he was seen watching porn in both the chamber and a committee meeting. The revelation comes following the outcry over misogyny in parliament sparked by a Mail on Sunday article published over the weekend.
The paper reported that Tory MPs had accused Angela Rayner of distracting Boris Johnson in parliament by crossing and uncrossing her legs, “deploying a fully-clothed parliamentary equivalent of Sharon Stone’s infamous scene in the 1992 film”.
Rayner said the piece was not only sexist but “steeped in classism“. The article described her as a “socialist grandmother who left school at 16 while pregnant and with no qualifications before becoming a care worker”. It also noted that she was comprehensively educated while describing Johnson as an “old Etonian”.
It also emerged earlier this week that former Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan, who was convicted earlier this month of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008, previously advised the Home Office in relation to a research paper investigating child sexual exploitation in the UK.
Asked during Prime Minister Questions this afternoon whether the Conservative Party is taking reports of sexual harassment seriously, Johnson told parliament: “Sexual harassment is intolerable … of course it’s grounds for dismissal.”
The Prime Minister’s press secretary has denied that the Tory Party has a problem with misogyny, saying today: “You will have heard the PM address this explicitly in parliament today and over the last few days, saying there is absolutely no place for such behaviour and this cannot be tolerated in any workplace.”