Tory MP caught in 'Westminster honeytrap' guilty of 'exceptionally inappropriate' behaviour - minister

Conservative MP William Wragg was guilty of “exceptionally inappropriate and ill-advised” behaviour when he passed on the phone numbers of colleagues to a blackmailer, cabinet minister Mel Stride said on Monday.

The work and pensions secretary refused to say whether Mr Wragg should have the Conservative whip removed, or if he should stand down as a vice chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench Tories.

“But he has clearly done something that is exceptionally inappropriate and ill-advised. He has apologised for that,” Mr Stride said on GB News.

“And I think that the overarching lesson for all of us in public life here is to proceed with great caution in the circumstances,” he said, after fellow Tory MPs Dr Luke Evans and Dame Andrea Jenkyns said they too were targeted in the honey trap sexting scam.

Dame Andrea tweeted on Sunday: “Unlike some MPs I am not happy with #Wragg as a mother with a young child who only recently had threats, it's unforgivable of him to compromise the security of fellow MPs. Action is needed!”

Mr Wragg last week revealed that he was “manipulated” into passing the personal phone numbers of colleagues to a man he met on gay dating app Grindr, after he had sent intimate pictures of himself.

A person identifying themselves as either “Charlie” or “Abi” sent flirtatious messages, and in some cases an explicit photo, to a number of MPs as well as some political journalists.

It is understood that at least two of the MPs responded by sending a picture of themselves back.

Mr Wragg told the Times he was “scared” because the person had compromising information on him. The MP for Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester said he was sorry for his “weakness”.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt described Mr Wragg’s apology as “courageous and fulsome”, and Tory high command is understood to be concerned about wider fallout if the scandal forces by-elections in one or more seats.

But the MP’s actions are drawing serious concern from his backbench colleagues in Westminster, and contrast with those taken by Dr Evans. The MP for Bosworth in Leicestershire said he was a victim of “cyber flashing” a month ago and quickly alerted police, parliamentary authorities and the Tory chief whip.

“I’m just pleased I blew the whistle, reported it to the authorities and it’s now being looked into,” he said on Friday.

The Metropolitan Police have confirmed they have opened an investigation and are in contact with Leicestershire Police and Parliamentary Security amid concerns other MPs and their staff could be victims of blackmail.