Tory MP Julian Knight has been cleared by the police after an allegation of serious sexual assault.
Mr Knight, who had been the chair of the Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee before the allegation came to light, said it had been “a single, false and malicious” claim.
He also attacked his party whips for publicly naming him when the story broke, saying their actions meant his name was “dragged through the mud and my good reputation immeasurably damaged”.
But Mr Knight will not be welcomed back into the Tory ranks yet, with a spokesperson for the chief whip, Simon Hart, saying “further complaints” had been made against him.
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The spokesperson said: “Following further complaints made to the Whips Office, we will not be restoring the whip to Julian Knight.
“These complaints, if appropriate, will be referred to the relevant police force, or appropriate bodies.”
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Allegations against Mr Knight were first reported in December last year and confirmed by a spokesperson for Mr Hart, who said he had removed the whip from the MP “with immediate effect” – leaving him sitting as an independent.
Mr Knight said at the time that he was “entirely innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever”, and claimed no one from the whips office, the police or parliament’s internal grievance service had spoken to him before his name was announced.
Releasing a statement after the investigation into him was dropped, Mr Knight said: “The fact is that there was never anything for the police to investigate.
“This was a single, false and malicious allegation initially brought to them by third parties, each of whom had their own clear motives for doing so.”
He added: “In publicly naming me in connection with the allegation, the Conservative Whips’ Office acted disgracefully and in breach of natural justice by removing my anonymity.
“Their actions meant my name was dragged through the mud and my good reputation immeasurably damaged.”
‘False and scandalous’
Mr Knight also criticised the police for their conduct in the investigation, saying: “Had the police taken the simple step at the outset of interviewing me under caution, they would have seen that the allegation was false and scandalous.
“Instead, they waited four months, without ever talking to me, before deciding there was nothing for them to investigate.”
He said it was his intention to “use every legal route available to pursue those inside and outside parliament involved in having this allegation brought against me”.
The MP, who had recused himself from parliament while the investigation took place, said he was looking forward to the “immediate return” of the party whip.
Asked about Mr Knight’s case, the Metropolitan Police said they would not confirm the name of anyone who was subject of an investigation.
But the force released a statement, saying: “On 28 October 2022, police received allegations of serious sexual assault against un-named victims reported to have taken place on unknown dates at undisclosed locations.
“On 7 December 2022, a further referral relating to the incident[s] was made and an investigation was launched.
“Police are no longer proceeding with an investigation.”
The Conservative Party has been contacted for a response.