A minister has said she would “probably have beaten” Stanley Johnson if he had wrongfully touched her in the way alleged by senior Conservative MP Caroline Nokes.
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the move would have been her “instinctive reaction” and that Mrs. Nokes exhibited “great personal restraint if she quietly moved away.”
Mrs Trevelyan added that – if the allegations is accurate – Mr Johnson’s actions were “not acceptable”.
“I will always call anyone who feels that kind of pressure to say no, and we will always stand by them,” the minister told Kay Burley.
Ms Nokes, a former minister and chair of the Women and Equality Select Committee, told Sky News that Mr Johnson, the former MEP and father of the prime minister, touched her in an inappropriate way at the Conservative party conference in Blackpool in 2003.
Ms Nokes, who has represented Romsey and Southampton North in the Commons since 2010, was at the time in her 30s and the potential parliamentary candidate for the constituency ahead of the 2005 parliamentary elections.
She told Sky News: “I remember a really prominent man – at the time the Conservative candidate for Teignbridge in Devon – hitting me on the back about as hard as he could and saying, ‘Oh, Romsey, you have a nice seat ‘. “
The candidate was Stanley Johnson, who later failed to get elected.
Sky News approached Johnson for comment on the allegation. He said, “I do not remember Caroline Nokes at all – but there it is. And no answer … Hi ho, good luck and thank you.”
In the wake of the MP making her claim, New Statesman journalist Ailbhe Rea has said she was “groped” by Stanley Johnson at the 2019 Conservative Party conference.
Describes her memory during one panel debate across parties, organized by Sky News, between four prominent female MPs on how to confront violence against women in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard, Mrs Nokes said: “I would have been in my early 30s, so old enough to say it.”
On Tuesday, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said the allegations of inappropriate touching on the prime minister’s father should be “fully investigated”.
Asked about the allegations, Sir Keir said at a press conference: “The allegations are serious and they need to be fully investigated. I do not think at present it is up to me to say what should happen as a result.
“But it takes courage and courage to come forward, to make claims like this.
“They must now be fully investigated, either by the Conservative Party or by the criminal authorities.”
In a speech to Sky News Wednesday morning, Ms Trevelyan said the Conservative Party has a “robust system” in place to deal with complaints if Ms Nokes wanted to raise them.
Asked if Mr Johnson will be investigated, she said: “I will leave Caroline to work with the party on this, but we have a robust system in place and I very much hope that she will be able to work through it. with the party machine.
“But more broadly, it is something that all of us who are women – not just in political life, for far too long – have had to endure for far too long.
“That kind of casual sexism, the wandering hand that’s completely unacceptable. And most men are just as horrified as you or I are.”
Asked what she would have done in response to the alleged touch, Mrs Trevelyan added: “At that point I would probably have given him a blow, which is probably not a better answer either, but it would have been an instinctive response from me and I think Caroline would have shown great personal restraint if she had quietly moved away. “
She continued: “Any woman who receives this kind of abusive behavior from anyone should definitely feel confident that she can stand up, both face down, but also have the support around her to ensure that the perpetrator in question does not that. “
Labor’s shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire said the Conservative Party has a “duty of care” towards its MPs and “should support Caroline”.
Mrs Debbonaire added that “very rarely is it a one-off incident” when allegations of sexual assault are raised.