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Tory MP Ross Thomson quits amid 'groping' allegation

Labour MP Paul Sweeney claimed the alleged incident took place at a Westminster bar.

Standing down: MP Ross Thomson.
Standing down: MP Ross Thomson. CC by Chris McAndrew

Scottish Conservative MP Ross Thomson has quit amid allegations he groped a Labour MP in a Westminster bar.

Paul Sweeney, the MP for Glasgow North East, said he was speaking out about the alleged incident - which he referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards - because he feared no action would have been taken before next month's General Election.

Following the publication of the allegations on Sunday, Mr Thomson, who led Boris Johnson's Conservative Party leadership campaign north of the border, strongly denied the Labour MP's account of events, accusing Mr Sweeney of making "entirely false allegations for the purpose of political point-scoring".

However on Sunday afternoon, the MP announced he would stand down as the Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate for Aberdeen South.

He stated he would continue to fight to clear his name and claimed "malicious allegations" this year had made his "life a living hell".

In a statement, he said: "I have made clear already today that the allegations printed in the Mail on Sunday are false and defamatory.

"This is a political smear and I will continue to fight to clear my name. I will see this investigatory process through to a conclusion.

"Anonymous and malicious allegations this year have made my life a living hell. It has been nothing short of traumatic.

"I have suffered a level of personal abuse that has affected my health, my mental wellbeing and my staff. It has been a level of abuse that I never imagined possible.

"I always believed politics was about noble pursuits and doing what you believed to be best for your country. My experience is that our politics is now so poisonous that we will never attract good, honest and decent people in the first place.

"I have therefore made the most difficult decision that I could ever make. I have decided that I will stand down as the Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate for Aberdeen South.

"I simply cannot thank my family, friends, staff and everybody who has shown me love, kindness and support for the past two years enough - and for the years before when I was a MSP and councillor.

"Serving as the MP for Aberdeen South has been the absolute privilege of my life. It has been a job that I have loved more than any other and nothing can ever come close to being able to stand up for our city and to help people who need you.

"This has been without doubt the hardest decision of my life. I remain confident that the ongoing parliamentary standards process will find in my favour, and that these baseless claims will be shown up for what they are.

"As I have already said I will continue to explore all options available to me in response to the defamatory and damaging allegations made by Mr Sweeney.

"This General Election campaign is hugely important for the future of Scotland, and indeed the very future of our Union.

"Therefore, I wish my successor candidate all the very best in their efforts to protect Scotland's place in the UK and to sort Brexit."

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1442094-labour-mp-claims-he-was-groped-by-tory-mp-ross-thomson/ | default

Mr Sweeney claimed Mr Thomson had grabbed at him in the Strangers' Bar in the House of Commons in October 2018, and then tried to put his hands down the front of his trousers.

A spokesman for Mr Sweeney said: "This assault, which took place last October, was reported to the appropriate authorities after similar but entirely separate allegations were made by other men against Ross Thomson in February.

"In light of the failure of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to resolve this matter before the General Election, Mr Sweeney feels it is important that voters in Thomson's constituency should be aware of his behaviour as their representative at Westminster."

The spokesman added: "Thomson's denials today fly in the face of what was witnessed by other MPs and visitors and show him to be utterly unrepentant. It is time for him to face up to his behaviour and accept that he is unfit to hold public office."

Simon Turner, the chairman of the Aberdeen City Conservative Association, said: "Ross Thomson has been a fantastic MP and a champion for his city. 

"He has always put his constituents first and it is with deep regret that we accept his decision today. 

"However, we understand that the recent media coverage has been extremely difficult for Ross and it would have made the upcoming general election campaign a deeply unpleasant experience. 

"We would like to thank Ross for his years of hard work for this city, as a councillor, a MSP and a MP for the last two years."

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