LONDON: A British Conservative member of parliament has been arrested on suspicion of rape, police and the lawmaker said on Thursday, in the latest damaging episode for the UK’s ruling party.
Police in Surrey, in the south of the UK, said the man was also detained on possession of controlled substances.
He was arrested on Wednesday morning before being released on conditional bail while the investigation continues.
Crispin Blunt, 63, posted a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, confirming that it was he who had been arrested.
“I have now been interviewed twice in connection with this incident, the first time three weeks ago, when I initially reported my concern over extortion. The second time was earlier this morning under caution following arrest.”
“The arrest was unnecessary as I remain ready to cooperate fully with the investigation that I am confident will end without charge,” added Blunt, a former junior minister.
Blunt was immediately suspended by his party, British media reported, meaning he now sits as an independent in the House of Commons.
He is the latest Tory MP to have been arrested in recent years and marks another blow for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s struggling party, which has been beset by scandal.
In May last year, it was reported that a Tory lawmaker had been arrested on suspicion of rape and misconduct in public office, among other allegations.
A Conservative MP was also arrested over rape allegations in 2020. He was never identified, and police dropped the investigation without charge.
Sunak’s Tories lag well behind the opposition Labour Party in opinion polls ahead of a general election expected next year.
The Conservatives suffered two heavy local election defeats to Labour last week, including one which was triggered when MP Chris Pincher quit after being found to have groped two men.
On Wednesday, Tory MP Peter Bone was suspended from parliament for six weeks for bullying and sexual misconduct against a staff member, a sanction that could trigger another by-election. – AFP