UK MP Chris Pincher faces eight-week suspension for groping strangers

A British MP accused of drunkenly groping two men at a private members’ club should be suspended from parliament for eight weeks, a standards watchdog says.

The ruling will likely result in Chris Pincher being ejected from the House of Commons by his constituents, triggering a special election for his seat.

It’s one of a handful of unwelcome by-elections that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government faces as it grapples with a stuttering economy and sinking popularity.

Mr Pincher resigned as Conservative Party deputy chief whip almost a year ago over allegations he had assaulted two strangers at a London club.

The allegations helped topple then-prime minister Boris Johnson, who faced questions about whether he knew about misconduct claims when he gave Mr Pincher a job as a whip responsible for enforcing party discipline.

The scandal was a final straw that prompted a string of ministers to resign from Mr Johnson’s government.

Mr Johnson was forced to step down as prime minister, but remained an MP until he quit last month after being censured for lying to parliament about rule-breaking government parties during the coronavirus pandemic.

The House of Commons Standards Committee said on Thursday that Mr Pincher pinched a parliamentary staffer’s bottom and grabbed a civil servant by the groin at the Carlton Club in June 2022.

The committee said Mr Pincher’s behaviour was “completely inappropriate, profoundly damaging to the individuals concerned, and represented an abuse of power”.

If MPs approve the eight-week suspension as expected, Mr Pincher’s constituents would be able to recall him by petition, triggering an election for his seat in the House of Commons.

Three other elections are scheduled for later this month to fill the seats vacated by Mr Johnson and two of his allies.

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