MP Julian Knight accuses Tory party of denying right to fair hearing
Julian Knight has accused the Conservative Party of denying him the right to a fair hearing, after he was suspended as a Tory MP following a report to police involving allegations of s.e.xual assault.
Mr Knight said he was “entirely innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever”. In a letter to the party’s chief whip, Simon Hart, Mr Knight strongly objected to the way he was named by the whip’s office on Wednesday night, when they confirmed his suspension from the parliamentary Conservative party.
He has demanded an “immediate and unequivocal answer” as to why he was suspended and publicly named.
The MP for Solihull said the whips – who are responsible for party discipline – must have known their actions would “entirely prejudice” any prospect of getting a fair hearing in any inquiry, court or disciplinary hearing.
“By unilaterally and publicly suspending the whip you have stripped me of the rights to anonymity or a fair hearing in any judicial forum or, indeed, in the court of public opinion,” he wrote.
In the letter, posted on his Twitter account on Thursday, Mr Knight said he was making the statement after his name was linked with an “apparently serious but entirely unspecified offence”.
He said he was making his letter public “in the interests of natural justice” and has asked the chief whip does the same with this reply.
On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the chief whip said in a statement Mr Knight had been suspended as a Conservative MP after a complaint to the Metropolitan Police.
Mr Knight said he found out he had been suspended from the media, after the statement from the chief whip’s office was released.
He said no one from the whip’s office spoke to him before his suspension and he had heard nothing from the police about “any allegation apparently made against me”.
The BBC has been told the chief whip was in touch with Mr Knight on Wednesday night.
But when asked for a response to Mr Knight’s position, the chief whip’s office would not comment further given the police investigation.
On Thursday, the Metropolitan Police said that on 28 October it had received allegations of sexual assault against unnamed victims reported to have taken place on unknown dates at undisclosed locations.
In his letter to the chief whip, Mr Knight asked whether his suspension was related to those allegations.
The statement added: “On 7 December, a further referral relating to the incident[s] was made and an investigation was launched.”
Police said inquiries were ongoing and there have been no arrests.
In a tweet earlier, Mr Knight said he believed his suspension was “wrong and unjustified”.
“Subsequently, I have received what my lawyers advise are explicit threats involving blackmail as well as being at the centre of a campaign of rumour and innuendo,” he said.
“All matters are now with my lawyers and I will be recusing myself from Parliament until the matter is resolved.”
Mr. Knight, who entered Parliament in 2015, is chairman of the Commons culture committee.
In other news – Royal Mail workers begin a wave of Christmas strikes
Thousands of postal workers at Royal Mail are on strike over pay and conditions, potentially causing disruption to customers’ festive deliveries.
More than 115,000 staff walked out on Friday, with more strikes to follow in the run-up to Christmas. Recent talks between the CWU union and Royal Mail have broken down. Learn more