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MP Julian Knight faces fresh misconduct allegations, BBC is told

MP Julian Knight faces fresh misconduct allegations, BBC is told

Four women have made complaints to parliamentary authorities about MP Julian Knight since police dropped an investigation into him, the BBC has been told.

The fresh complaints are thought to allege inappropriate comments and behaviour.

The BBC has also been told five different women raised sexual misconduct allegations about him to the police.

Mr Knight, who is MP for Solihull, has strongly denied wrongdoing.

The separate reports to police and parliamentary authorities mean nine women in total are alleged to have made some form of misconduct allegation about Mr Knight, ranging from allegations of inappropriate comments to sexual assault. This means allegations of wrongdoing are wider than previously thought. Mr Knight, who was elected to Parliament in 2015, has repeatedly said there was a "single" and "baseless" complaint made against him to the Metropolitan Police.

He said police did not interview him before they closed the case, and that he has not been made aware of "any details of allegations supposedly made subsequently against me to any parliamentary authorities".


'Further complaints'


A police investigation was launched into the MP in December 2022 after police received allegations of serious sexual assault.

Scotland Yard said it had received "allegations in relation to unnamed victims" on 28 October last year, before a further referral relating to the "incident{s}" was made on 7 December.

The BBC has now been told five women, in addition to third-party witnesses, had raised sexual misconduct allegations about him to the Metropolitan Police.

On 29 March 2023, police dropped their investigation into Mr Knight saying no arrests had been made.

The Conservative whips office said at the time it would not restore Mr Knight as a Tory MP following "further complaints".

Chief whip Simon Hart said the complaints, if appropriate, "will be referred to the relevant police force, or appropriate bodies".

Four women have made misconduct complaints to the parliamentary authorities about Mr Knight, alleging inappropriate comments and behaviour, since the Met dropped their investigation, the BBC has been told.

The complaints are unrelated but the BBC understands some of them allege a similar pattern of behaviour, claiming that Mr Knight had reached out to women on social media to offer career support before later making inappropriate comments or approaches.

The allegations relate to the period he has sat as an MP, including during his tenure as chairman of the Commons culture committee.

After the police dropped their investigation, he accused the whips' office of making a statement about "unspecified further complaints" which he said "tarnished my name and left my family and me in limbo".

He also said he had tried to "discover the nature of these allegations so that I could deny them, since I know I am guilty of no wrong-doing".

But he added that "no job or political career is worth this".

He has stated that he will sit as an independent MP until the next general election but will not stand again and has "no choice" but to relinquish his position as chair of the culture committee.

Mr Knight recused himself from parliament while police were investigating him but has since returned.


'Serious concerns'


Unions in parliament have raised concerns about the procedures in relation to safeguarding of staff in parliament.

Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, said: "Trade unions have been pushing for some time for Parliament to have the ability to exclude MPs from Westminster if serious accusations are made about them. But we are still waiting for concrete action.

"The idea that Parliament can simply remain neutral and uninvolved when allegations are made against an MP is outdated, regressive and out of kilter with best practice.

"The Conservative Party's refusal to return the whip suggests that they have serious concerns about this individual and if that is the case then transparency is vital for employee safety.

He added: "If Parliament has information about potentially serious misbehaviour, what action can it reasonably take to ensure the safety of staff, visitors and other MPs?

"The House of Commons Commission launched a consultation on MP exclusion in December last year.

"Concern is growing at the lack of action since then. Allegations of MP misconduct do not seem to be going away, Parliament needs to bring forward proposals as quickly as possible."


Informal agreement


Certain parliamentary figures in charge of discipline - like party whips - do not have the power to stop an MP coming into parliament.

They usually rely on informal agreements with MPs accused of misconduct, asking them to stay away while investigations are ongoing.

If an MP is investigated by parliament's standards committee, or the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) that was set up to investigate bullying or harassment cases against MPs, they can face a suspension, if these bodies recommend one.

For an MP to be investigated by the IEP, a report must be made and upheld about them to parliament's Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS).

Police can ban MPs from parliament if they arrest somebody, release them on bail, but make it a bail condition to stay away from that workplace.


'Baseless complaint'


In a statement, Julian Knight told the BBC: "As I have repeatedly said, I am fully aware of the circumstances of the single complaint made against me to the Metropolitan Police and the motivations of those involved in making it.

"This baseless complaint was dismissed by the police without their even feeling the need to interview me, which they never did.

"I have not been made aware of any details of allegations supposedly made subsequently against me to any Parliamentary authorities.

'Nor am I the subject of any investigation by parliament's Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme.

"Should I become the subject of any such investigation, I will fully and publicly defend myself against any allegations.

"Meanwhile, it is deplorable that, despite the police decision, I remain the subject of what appears to be a smear campaign conducted through leaks, false innuendo and briefings."

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