David Warburton speaks in Parliament in 2018
Disgraced ex-Somerset MP David Warburton will now be investigated all over again after a standards panel decided to uphold an appeal, sending the process right back to square one.
David Warburton was placed under investigation in June 2022, after papers reported a slew of allegations against him including cocaine use, undeclared loans and sexual harassment.
Parliament’s independent expert panel published a report today, but rather than the conclusions expected said that they had upheld an appeal by Mr Warburton, forcing the whole investigation to begin again.
The current investigation has already taken a year to get to this point.
The panel reported that the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards did uphold three allegations of sexual misconduct against Mr Warburton.
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However, the reviewing sub-panel concluded that the investigation was “materially flawed in ways that affected the Commissioner’s decision”.
They added: “his decision was procedurally flawed”.
They made no findings on the substance of the complaint against Mr Warburton, nor on his claim that is was “fabricated”.
“Those remain open questions for the new investigation.”
Mr Warburton quit as an MP on June 17, forcing Rishi Sunak to deal with a fourth by-election he may lose.
He told the Mail on Sunday he’d been “set up, but I have been naive and incredibly stupid”.
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The former MP left the Commons days later, continuing to deny the harassment claims against him.
He told the Mail the “flawed” 14-month investigation had “inflicted unimaginable and intolerable destruction on my family and on me”.
“I have been prevented from revealing that the first investigation against me was dismissed, that the claimant falsified evidence or that the second claimant was witness to the first and vice-versa.
“I have been prevented from saying that in the remaining case, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards [Daniel Greenberg] himself declared its year-long investigation as ‘flawed’ – that it ought to be reinvestigated – but that due to its own lethargic pace and delays, we must accept it as it is.”
One of the sexual assault complainants was a “member of staff in Mr Warburton’s Westminster office”, and made the complaint against Mr Warburton to the Commons helpline in March 2022.
Following initial assessments the ICGS investigated six allegations; four of a breach of sexual misconduct policy and two of the bullying and harassment policy.
The Commissioner disagreed with the investigator’s recommendation of upholding two of the sexual misconduct allegations, referring back to primary evidence collected and upholding three allegations instead.
Gabriel Pogrund, the Sunday Times journalist who broke much of the story, reports that one complainant against Mr Warburton has since moved jobs and another has left the country, meaning a re-investigation could prove difficult.
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