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From cash-for-questions to ‘casting couch’ claims: Ten times Westminster was embroiled in sleaze

The shadow of “Westminster sleaze” once more looms over the Houses of Parliament following the emergence of a recent spate of lurid allegations concerning the behaviour of Britain’s elected representatives.

An unnamed Conservative MP is reportedly going through suspension from his occasion after being accused of watching a pornographic video on his smartphone in the Commons in full view of colleagues.

Meanwhile, a feminine Labour MP has claimed she was the made the topic of “vulgar sexual comments” by a member of her personal occasion, casting additional mild on the casual sexism ladies in politics face every single day following the furore brought on by a Mail on Sunday story printed over the weekend, in which one other unnamed Tory MP made accusations of a sexual nature towards Labour deputy chief Angela Rayner.

The Sunday Times reported on the identical day that 56 MPs, together with three Cabinet ministers and two Shadow Cabinet members, had been underneath investigation over claims of sexual misconduct and had been referred to Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme.

Of course, that is hardly the primary time in residing reminiscence that the conduct of Britain’s political leaders has been discovered wanting – right here is an summary of among the largest scandals of the final 30 years.

A shocking affair

The publication of Conservative MP Edwina Currie’s diaries in 2002 supplied the eyebrow-raising revelation that she had had an affair with future Conservative prime minister Sir John Major between 1984 and 1988 when she was a backbencher and he the occasion’s whip and each had been married.

David Mellor, aggrieved having himself been compelled to resign from Mr Major’s Cabinet in September 1992 over an extramarital affair of his personal, noticed wryly that historical past may need been very completely different if his former boss’s infidelity had turn out to be public data whereas he was nonetheless in office.


The phrase “Westminster sleaze” first gained nationwide prominence because of the “cash-for-questions” affair in 1994, when Conservative MPs Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith had been compelled to resign from authorities jobs after then-Harrods proprietor Mohamed al-Fayed revealed he had given them money in brown paper envelopes to ask particular questions in the Commons.

The scandal additionally led to the jailing of former defence minister Jonathan Aitken over secret conferences with Saudi representatives and prompted the creation of Lord Nolan’s “seven principles of public life”, which all public officers at the moment are anticipated to adhere to – selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and management.

‘A moment of madness’

Welsh Labour chief Ron Davies, Tony Blair’s secretary of state for Wales, resigned in late October 1998 after he was mugged at knifepoint by a stranger he had met on Clapham Common, south London, having agreed to go for a meal with the person, dropping his pockets, cell phone and keys in the incident in an space then-notorious as a pickup spot.

Mr Davies was married on the time however divorced the year after his fall from grace.

“It was a moment of madness for which I have subsequently paid a very, very heavy price and I am deeply sorry,” he famously stated. “I bitterly regret it.”

New Labour resignations

Mr Blair served as PM from 1997 to 2007 and was compelled to log out on the resignation of numerous Cabinet ministers for a wide range of transgressions, notably his transport secretary Stephen Byers, who reluctantly stepped down in late May 2002 after it emerged that one in all his particular advisers, Jo Moore, had despatched an e-mail on the day of the 9/11 terror assaults on New York City that suggested: “It’s now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury.”

Peter Mandelson was in the meantime compelled to step down twice, first over an undeclared dwelling mortgage from a fellow minister and, secondly, for allegedly making an attempt to assist a donor to the Millennium Dome with a passport application.


David Blunkett additionally give up twice over allegedly making an attempt to fast-track a visa for a lover’s nanny and forward of an investigation right into a paternity check company, which ultimately cleared him of any battle of curiosity.

The bills scandal

The really operatic parliamentary bills scandal of 2009, sparked by a freedom of data request into members’ monetary claims, rocked Westminster to its core and claimed the scalps of numerous members of Gordon Brown’s authorities, together with Jacqui Smith, Hazel Blears and Geoff Hoon, House speaker Michael Martin and a slew of each Labour and Conservative backbenchers and friends from the House of Lords.

The public outcry raged for months and jokes about decorative duck homes had been commonplace.

Speeding ticket

During the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition years, Lib Dem secretary of state for local weather Chris Huhne was compelled to resign in February 2012 after being charged with perverting the course of justice in relation to a dashing offence in 2003.


Rather than merely settle for the advantageous and accompanying penalty factors, Mr Huhne had persuaded his then-wife Vicki Pryce to take the autumn in order that he might keep away from being banned from driving, an accusation he denied till he confronted trial a year later, whereupon he modified his plea to responsible, resigned as an MP and left the Privy Council.

He and Ms Pryce had been sentenced at Southwark Crown Court in March 2013 to eight months in jail, Mr Huhne serving 9 weeks earlier than being launched. He was later immortalised on a vase made by Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry.

‘Casting couch’

A extra disturbing scandal to hit the identical occasion had been the allegations of sexual harassment made towards chief government Chris Rennard in a Channel 4 News report broadcast in February 2013.

One of his accusers, Alison Smith, claimed the senior official had made undesirable overtures to ladies at occasion occasions and operated a “casting couch” coverage, blocking those that rejected his advances from progressing throughout the occasion ranks.

Lord Rennard denied the allegations of “improper touching” and stated he was left “disappointed and angry”.

His occasion membership was suspended for seven months in 2014 whereas an investigation was carried out earlier than being restored when police discovered inadequate proof to convey prices and it was deemed that no additional motion was required.


On 19 September 2012, David Cameron’s newly appointed chief whip, Andrew Mitchell, turned concerned in a row with PC Toby Rowland, guarding Downing Street, who requested him not to journey his bicycle earlier than leaving the primary gate, to which Mr Mitchell allegedly replied: “Best you learn your f***ing place. You don’t run this f***ing government… You’re f***ing plebs.”


The minister apologised when the story turned public however disputed points of the officer’s account, notably using the phrase “pleb”, earlier than resigning precisely a month after the incident in question, solely to subsequently pursue libel actions towards The Sun newspaper and PC Rowland and lose each in 2014.

A sure senior civil servant by the identify of Sue Gray carried out an inside Whitehall inquiry into the affair.


Since turning on his heel and leaving Downing Street with a nonchalant hum in the wake of the Brexit vote in summer season 2016, Mr Cameron has been accused of exploiting his previous affect to foyer ministers together with former well being secretary Matt Hancock and chancellor Rishi Sunak on behalf of Greensill Capital.

Mr Cameron has denied any wrongdoing.

Cummings, Hancock and ‘Partygate’

Boris Johnson’s authorities has been very almost introduced to its knees on a number of events in relation to violations of its personal lockdown guidelines launched in 2020 and 2021 to include the coronavirus pandemic.

Senior adviser Dominic Cummings didn’t resign after admitting driving to Barnard Castle in County Durham “to test his eyesight” – an episode that notably enraged the general public – Mr Hancock did go after being caught on digital camera breaching social distancing orders in a clinch with Gina Coladangelo, an aide with whom he was having an affair, whereas Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak have up to now declined to step down regardless of being fined by the Metropolitan Police for attending illicit events at Downing Street whereas the general public stayed at dwelling.

The redoubtable Ms Gray is once more due to go judgement, with extra fixed-penalty notices understood to be forthcoming.

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