Michael Fabricant said he was mystified by his inclusion in the document and questioned the motives of its anonymous authors
A senior Tory last night called for an end to the Westminster sexual harassment ‘witch hunt’ after being named in a ‘libellous’ dossier.
Amid a growing backlash, Michael Fabricant said he was mystified by his inclusion in the document and questioned the motives of its anonymous authors.
He was listed as having been ‘inappropriate with a male journalist in a taxi’. Last night he denied the allegation and warned the claims threatened to undermine action in genuine cases of sexual harassment.
Ministers named in the document, which identifies more than 40 Tory MPs, are threatening to take legal action against social media firms that allowed it to circulate. One said the situation was Kafkaesque. Another fears being dropped by Theresa May as a result.
Mr Fabricant, Lichfield MP and former Tory vice-chairman, said: ‘I have seen the spreadsheet, which is on social media. It only lists Conservative MPs and is a strange hotchpotch of rumour and gossip. I am listed over a single incident where I was said to be “inappropriate with a male journalist in a taxi”. What does that mean?
‘Was it a risqué joke that I told? If it were anything noteworthy, surely the journalist would have either written it up as a juicy story – or smacked me in the mouth?
‘And who was he anyway, and when? For the life of me, I cannot recall having been in a taxi with a journalist though doubtless I must have been over the last 25 years in parliament. This is why we do need to have an independent investigative body which can assess accusations, punish guilty MPs, and also discredit anyone who smears an MP merely for party political or other ends.
‘Right-minded people everywhere will condemn unsubstantiated witch hunts.’
The dossier, obtained by the Daily Mail, is said to have been drawn up in secret by a small group of current and former parliamentary researchers.
Last night it was freely available on social media, as well as a website based in the US – sparking panic and anger among those named. One minister said: ‘The claims against me are scurrilous and libellous. I hope they’ve got deep pockets.’
An alleged victim of harassment said: ‘It’s the victims who have their names dragged through the papers, not the MPs.’ First Secretary of State Damian Green was yesterday named as being on the list over historic claims that he used the Ashley Madison dating website – an allegation he has always strenuously denied.
One minister said he feared being blacklisted by Mrs May in her next reshuffle as a result of his inclusion in the dossier.
‘It is a nightmare,’ the MP said. ‘The allegations are totally untrue and I don’t understand where they have come from. But I have no way of clearing my name.
First Secretary of State Damian Green was named as being on the list over historic claims that he used the Ashley Madison