House of Commons watchdog has denied criticisms from a departing Conservative MP after an investigation by the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) into allegations of sexual harassment and cocaine use.
David Warburton resigned from his Somerton and Frome seat on Saturday, leaving Rishi Sunak facing another potentially damaging by-election.
Mr Warburton said he was prevented from “speaking out” while the accusation was investigated and said it had been an “extraordinarily difficult” 14 months fighting “malicious allegations”.
Parliament remains absolutely committed to the ICGS.
In his resignation letter he said he was left with “no choice” than to provoke “the upheaval of a by-election”, saying: “It is my hope that, in so doing, I can freely illuminate the methods of an oversight system not fit for purpose, so that friends and colleagues in the House can see the perverted process by which their own judgement may at any time be freighted.”
A spokesperson from the House of Commons said: “Parliament remains absolutely committed to the ICGS.”
In response to Mr Warburton’s case, they said: “Parliament’s ICGS operates on the basis of confidentiality for the benefit of all parties. It is vital to the integrity of every case and for the wellbeing of those involved.
“For that reason, we cannot provide any information on any complaints or cases, including whether or not a complaint has been received.”
The spokesperson said since their last review they have implemented 30 of 33 recommendations with another review coming this year.
“The target to reduce the length of investigations must always be balanced against the paramount requirement to ensure that investigations are rigorous and robust,” they said.
“The ICGS remains focused on ensuring that investigations can progress as efficiently as possible, as well as ensuring greater transparency and confidence in its processes.
“Significant work has already been undertaken to improve the scheme, including the recruitment of additional independent investigators”
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Mr Warburton admitted to taking cocaine after drinking “tons of incredibly potent” Japanese whiskey, but denied claims he harassed a female political aide in his Westminster flat.
Mr Warburton’s resignation will trigger an electoral battle in his Somerset constituency, adding to the problems faced by the Prime Minister who faces at least two other by-elections after the resignations of Boris Johnson and Nigel Adams.
He took the seat from the Liberal Democrats in 2015 and has a 19,213 majority.
The contests in Mr Johnson’s former seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip plus Selby and Ainsty are scheduled for July 20.