Ross Thomson: Tory MP accused of groping Labour MP to step down at general election

MP says it’s ‘most difficult decision that I could ever make’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Sunday 03 November 2019 15:45
Ross Thompson launches re-election campaign day before announcing he will stand down as MP

Conservative MP Ross Thomson has announced he will not stand in the general election, amid an allegation he groped a Labour MP in a Westminster bar last year.

Mr Thomson, who denies the claim, said he would “continue to fight to clear my name”, but would not stand as a candidate for Aberdeen South at December’s general election.

Paul Sweeney told the Scottish Mail on Sunday the Tory MP had grabbed at him in the Strangers’ bar in the House of Commons in October 2018, and then tried to put his hands down the front of his trousers.

“I felt paralysed. It was just such a shocking thing. I was in a cold sweat, it was mortifying,” the Labour MP for Glasgow North East said.

He added: “In the back of my mind, I was thinking that if I just punched the guy, who knows where that could end up when there’s a bar full of journalists. I couldn’t fight, so I took flight.”

Mr Sweneey added that he was speaking out about the alleged incident, which he referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, as he feared no action would have been taken before the election.

Mr Thomson, who led Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party leadership campaign north of the border, strongly denies the Labour MP’s account of events, accusing Mr Sweeney of making “entirely false allegations for the purpose of political point-scoring”.

But in a statement posted on social media on Sunday, Mr Thomson said he had “made the most difficult decision that I could ever make”, adding: “I have decided that I will stand down as the Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate for Aberdeen South”.

He continued: “Anonymous and malicious allegations this year has made my life a living hell. It has been nothing short of traumatic. I have suffered a level of personal abuse that has affected my health, my mental wellbeing and my staff.

“I remain confident that the ongoing parliamentary standards process will find in my favour, and that these baseless claims will be shown up for what they are.”

A spokesman for Mr Sweeney added: “This assault, which took place last October, was reported to the appropriate authorities after similar but entirely separate allegations were made by other men against Ross Thomson in February.

“In light of the failure of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to resolve this matter before the general election Mr Sweeney feels it is important that voters in Thomson’s constituency should be aware of his behaviour as their representative at Westminster.”

“Thomson’s denials today fly in the face of what was witnessed by other MPs and visitors and show him to be utterly unrepentant. It is time for him to face up to his behaviour and accept that he is unfit to hold public office,” they added.

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