Downing Street did not tell truth when saying Boris Johnson was unaware of Chris Pincher complaints, ex-Foreign Office chief says

Lord McDonald of Salford has submitted a formal complaint against Downing Street to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone

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Boris Johnson was briefed “in person” about an investigation into the conduct of Chris Pincher when he was a Foreign Office minister, the former permanent secretary at the Foreign Office has said.

Lord McDonald of Salford has submitted a formal complaint to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone saying the account given by Downing Street was “not true”.

Downing Street had said that while Mr Johnson was aware of concerns about Mr Pincher when he made him Deputy Chief Whip in February, they had either been resolved or were unsubstantiated.

But in his letter Lord McDonald said: “Mr Johnson was briefed in person about the initiation and outcome of the investigation. There was a ‘formal complaint’.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Simon McDonald's letter to Kathryn Stone
Simon McDonald's letter to Kathryn Stone

“Allegations were ‘resolved’ only in the sense that the investigation was completed; Mr Pincher was not exonerated.

"To characterise the allegations as ‘unsubstantiated’ is therefore wrong.”

In his letter, Lord McDonald said that in the summer of 2019, shortly after Mr Pincher was made Europe minister, a group of officials in the Foreign Office had complained to him about his behaviour.

He said that an investigation into the allegations – which were similar to his alleged behaviour at the Carlton Club – had upheld the complaint.

He said Mr Pincher had apologised and promised not to repeat the inappropriate behaviour. There was no repetition at the Foreign Office before he left seven months later to become a housing minister, he added.

Lord McDonald acknowledged that it was unusual to write to the commissioner and simultaneously publicise the letter which he posted on social media.

“I am conscious of the duty owed to the target of an investigation but I act out of of my duty towards the victims. Mr Pincher deceived me and others in 2019,” he wrote.

“He cannot be allowed to use the confidentiality of the process three years ago to pursue his predatory behaviour in other contexts.”