Tory minister 'admits making aide buy sex toys amid Westminster harassment scandal'

'I'm not going to deny it, because I'm not going to be dishonest. I'm going to have to take it on the chin'

Chloe Farand
Sunday 29 October 2017 02:36 GMT
Jeremy Hunt says there will be an investigation into whether sex pest scandal behaviour has broken ministerial code

International Trade Minister Mark Garnier has admitted calling his secretary "sugar tits" and making her buy sex toys for him.

The 53-year-old MP for Wyre Forest said he was "not going to be dishonest" after Commons Secretary Caroline Edmondson told The Mail on Sunday Mr Garnier gave her money and waited outside a sex shop in Soho while she went inside to buy two vibrators.

Ms Edmondson claimed that the Under Secretary of State told her one of the sex toys was for his wife and the other was for a female assistant in his West Midlands constituency.

Jeremy Corbyn urges end to "warped and degrading" Westminster culture of abuse

Mr Garnier told the Sunday paper: "I'm not going to deny it, because I'm not going to be dishonest. I'm going to have to take it on the chin."

But the father-of-three denied the 2010 incident constituted sexual harassment and said the sex toys were bought after a Christmas lunch and the "vibrator shop was high jinks".

He said his "sugar tits" comment was part of "an amusing conversation" about TV show Gavin And Stacey.

Mr Garnier also admitted that he and Ms Edmondson later fell out and that she had been using the incident against him "ever since".

Ms Edmondson disagreed with the junior minister's version of events and argued Mr Garnier had suggested shopping in the Soho sex shop in a Commons bar one evening and told her "let's do it" the following day.

Meanwhile, another sex controversy had engulfed senior Tory MP Stephen Crabb. The 44-year-old minister and devout Christian admitted to The Mail on Sunday he sent "explicit" messages to a 19-year-old woman who was coming in for a job interview in 2013.

MP Stephen Crabb said he had been "foolish" to send "sexual chatter" to the teenage girl he interviewed for a job in 2013

He said he had been "foolish" but insisted there he had no sexual contact with the teenager.

"We exchanged messages which talked about sex but none of it was meant seriously," he said, adding the pair had met a few times for coffee and had met for a glass of wine once at a Commons bar.

A friend of the woman told The Daily Telegraph she saw messages in which Mr Crabb, a father of two, said "he wanted to have sex with her".

"I accept any kind of sexual chatter like this is totally wrong and I am sorry for my actions," Mr Crabb said told the Mail.

The latest developments come after Environmental Minister Michael Gove was forced to apologise for making an inappropriate joke about the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal on the BBC's Today programme.

His remark came a day after allegations of widespread abuse of women in Westminster.

Theresa May now fears the Westminster sex scandal could force her into an emergency reshuffle a source with knowledge of a meeting between the Prime Minister and senior aides told The Sun on Sunday.

"It's been an open secret for years that some MPs overstep the mark," the source said.

The Prime Minister believes the allegations made against politicians are “deeply concerning”, her spokeswoman said on Friday.

Jeremy Corbyn warned in a speech on Saturday that MPs who engage in the abuse and sexual harassment of women must be held accountable for their actions.

The Labour leader said there is a “warped and degrading culture” - where the abuse of women is accepted and normalised and is thriving in the corridors of power, including Westminster.

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