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Concervative MP Crispin Blunt (Photo: DANIEL LEAL via Getty Images)
A Conservative MP who defended a colleague after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage boy is standing down from parliament.
Crispin Blunt was forced to apologise after he criticised the conviction of Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan as “nothing short of an international scandal”.
Khan, the MP for Wakefield, forced the boy to drink gin and tonic, dragged him upstairs, pushed him on to a bed and asked him to watch pornography before the attack at a house in Staffordshire in January 2008.
In a statement following his conviction, Blunt said: “I hope for the return of Imran Ahmad Khan to the public service that has exemplified his life to date.
“Any other outcome will be a stain on our reputation for justice, and an appalling own goal by Britain as we try to take a lead in reversing the Victorian era prejudice that still disfigures too much of the global statute book.”
But after deleting his initial message of support the following day, Blunt said: “On reflection I have decided to retract my statement defending Imran Ahmad Khan.
“I am sorry that my defence of him has been a cause of significant upset and concern not least to victims of sexual offences. It was not my intention to do this.”
Khan has since announced that he is standing down as an MP.
In a statement posted on his website, Blunt - who was first elected as MP for Reigate in 1997 - made no reference to the furore as he announced he would stand down at the next election.
He said: “This statement is not the place for the tale of the ensuing 25 years, that may or may not follow when this particular parliamentary journey is concluded. But its purpose is to use this 25th anniversary to make public, what those closest to me have known privately for some time, that after seven increasingly tumultuous parliaments, this will be my last.”
Blunt added: “In looking forward to the next two years or so of this parliament, whilst securing my re-election is no longer an interest, there will be continued joy in representing the citizens I’ve had the honour to serve for 25 years.
“I still enjoy the personal motivation to do this to the best of my ability, using my experience in their interests, individual and collective; to help secure the future of the party that has given me this opportunity; and to also continue to call out long established populist views on policy shibboleths that continue to cause damage to our society and beyond. ”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.