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A Tory MP who reportedly asked an alleged victim of Chris Pincher if he was gay has been made a minister in Boris Johnson’s caretaker Cabinet.
Sarah Dines, who has been appointed parliamentary under-secretary of state jointly at the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), was said to have told the accuser his case was not “straightforward” based on his sexuality.
The Sunday Times reported claims that Ms Dines – then an assistant whip – witnessed the alleged assault at the exclusive Carlton Club in London last week, after which she asked the accuser if he was gay.
The alleged victim told the newspaper: “I was a bit taken aback by that and said, ‘What’s that got to do with it? But yes, I am’.
“And her words were, ‘Well, that doesn’t make it straightforward’. She saw everything, which is why I am so angry.”
Ms Dines, the MP for Derbyshire Dales, was said to have later escalated the matter by reporting the alleged incident to her superiors.
Her reported comments were put to Mr Johnson as he was quizzed by the Commons Liaison Committee earlier this week, with Labour MP Chris Bryant asking if they amounted to “victim shaming”.
Mr Johnson said he had not spoken to Ms Dines about the matter, but said: “I very much doubt that Sarah meant to put it that way”.
Mr Pincher resigned as deputy chief whip last Thursday after allegedly assaulting two fellow guests at the Carlton Club the evening before.
He had the Conservative whip suspended the following day after a formal complaint was made to Parliament’s watchdog that examines allegations of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct, and now faces an investigation.
Mr Pincher said at the weekend he was “truly sorry” for upset he had caused after he “drank far too much” that Wednesday, and vowed to fully co-operate with the inquiry, adding that he was seeking “professional medical support”.
Downing Street initially said Mr Johnson had no knowledge of previous allegations against Mr Pincher, but the now-outgoing Prime Minister later acknowledged he had been informed of inappropriate behaviour dating back to 2019, and said he regretted keeping him in government beyond that point.
The row over the Pincher scandal unleashed a wave of pent-up frustration with Mr Johnson’s leadership, culminating in mass resignations and, ultimately, the PM’s downfall.
In addition to Ms Dines’ new role, Downing Street announced six fresh appointments on Friday afternoon.
Richard Fuller has been made Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Stuart Andrew has been appointed minister of state at the Ministry of Justice, and Alan Mak is now Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.
Rehman Chishti, Lia Nici and Brendan Clarke-Smith have been made parliamentary under-secretaries of state at the Foreign Office, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and the Department for Education, respectively.
Ms Dines has been approached for comment.