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Westminster Accounts: Liz Truss paid £15,770 an hour for second jobs – as outside earnings of MPs revealed | Politics News

MPs with second jobs have an average wage of £233 per hour, Sky News can reveal.

The typical rate for MPs is 17 times the national average – and over 22 higher than the minimum hourly wage.

The highest hourly rate for a current MP goes to Liz Truss, who got £15,770 per hour.

Westminster Accounts

Ms Truss’s most lucrative work since leaving Number 10 has been a speech in Taiwan. She was paid at a rate of £20,000 per hour – nearly 1,500 times the UK average hourly wage – for her insights into global diplomacy.

Even higher than Ms Truss is Boris Johnson, who resigned as an MP last month. His hourly rate comes in at £21,822, but having left parliament, he is free to work without having to publicly record his earnings.

The leaderboard of the MPs with the 20 highest hourly rates in this parliament reveals a clear pattern: 18 have government experience, suggesting a ministerial background is valued by some employers.

Use this interactive Westminster Accounts table to see how many hours each MP has worked in second jobs, and the equivalent hourly rate they have received:

Westminster Accounts – search for your MP with our interactive tool

The Westminster Accounts project – produced in association with media company Tortoise – has analysed the data MPs provide about how much time they have worked on second jobs in this parliament.

The MP who records the highest hours outside their work as a backbench MP is Douglas Ross, the leader of the Conservatives in the Scottish Parliament.

He recorded working 3,869 hours on top of his role as an MP: 3,739 hours as an MSP, 89 hours for the Scottish Football Association as a referee, and the rest refereeing in other roles.

Mr Ross is standing down as an MP at the next election to concentrate on his work in Scotland, but political double-jobbing of this nature is not routinely considered controversial in Westminster.

Read More:
Powerful group of Tory MPs scrutinised by expenses watchdog
Labour calls for ‘urgent investigation’ into Tory donor
Westminster Accounts – the story so far

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Tory MPs probed by expenses watchdog

Dr Dan Poulter is the MP who spends the most amount of time in a non-political job. The Conservative and NHS hospital doctor works in mental health services. He has registered 3,508 hours since the 2019 election.

The MP registering the most hours in the private sector is barrister Sir Geoffrey Cox, who put the tally at 2,565.

The highest Labour name in this list is the shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, who has worked nearly 1,000 hours for 45 different organisations. He has worked almost 700 hours in second jobs since the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer announced a policy to ban them in the aftermath of the Owen Paterson scandal.

Westminster Accounts at a glance: use the table below to see how much money has gone to parties, MPs and APPGs in the form of donations and earnings since the 2019 election – and the individuals or organisations behind the funding.

Jill Rutter, the former top official now with the Institute for Government, questioned whether MPs were required to record their outside hours in the correct way, given that MPs often register four or five hours when giving an overseas speech would take them out of the country for several days.

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She said: “I think we can probably rely on [this system] to answer the question ‘How long does a particular task take?’ – I don’t think we can rely on it to answer the question about ‘How unavailable does that make you?’

“If you give a speech in London, you put down an hour-and-a-half. That’s probably pretty fair.

“But the same speech given in Chicago or Calcutta, it’s an hour-and-a-half of the speech, but actually you were away from the country quite a long time. So if we want to say how available are you as an MP, the system is really not very good for that.”

SNP’s Westminster group submits accounts on time to avoid losing £1.2m in public funds | UK News

The SNP’s Westminster group has filed its audited accounts ahead of a deadline, the party has said.

The party faced missing out on £1.2m in public funds if it failed to meet the 31 May cut-off.

AMS Accountants Group took charge of the SNP’s books earlier this month after it was revealed in April that previous auditors Johnston Carmichael quit in September 2022 following a review of the firm’s client portfolio.

First Minister Humza Yousaf admitted he was unaware of the situation until he became party leader following Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation.

With the accounts submitted on time, the SNP should benefit from so-called ‘short money’ – public funds paid to opposition parties at Westminster to support their parliamentary work.

On Wednesday, Peter Grant MP, the SNP’s Westminster group treasurer, said: “I’m pleased to confirm that the annual return for the SNP Westminster group’s ‘short money’ for 2022/23 has received a clean audit certificate and has been submitted, on time, to the parliamentary authorities.

“Throughout this process, SNP MPs have remained focused on standing up for Scotland and supporting our hard-working staff.

“We will continue to hold the Tories and pro-Brexit Labour to account for the damage their policies are inflicting on Scotland.”

The SNP’s next deadline is to file the whole party’s audited accounts with the Electoral Commission by 7 July or risk being fined. AMS Accounting is also carrying out that work.

Read more:
Nicola Sturgeon says SNP crisis beyond her ‘worst nightmares’
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross criticises SNP ‘secrecy, spin and cover-ups’
Arrests, a luxury motorhome and a power couple’s fall: The inside story of SNP police probe

News of Johnston Carmichael quitting as auditors emerged as a police investigation into the SNP’s funding and finances ramped up.

Ms Sturgeon’s husband, former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, was arrested as part of the probe along with ex-treasurer Colin Beattie. Both men were subsequently released without charge pending further inquiries.

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Sturgeon: Last few weeks ‘very difficult’

Police Scotland launched Operation Branchform in 2021.

The long-running inquiry is linked to the spending of around £600,000 raised by supporters to be earmarked for Scottish independence campaigning.

It is understood there have been complaints the ringfenced cash may have been used improperly by being spent elsewhere.

Officers from Police Scotland stand beside by police tape and a police tent outside the home of former chief executive of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Peter Murrell, in Uddingston, Glasgow, after he was arrested in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the party. Picture date: Wednesday April 5, 2023.
Police outside Ms Sturgeon and Mr Murrell’s home

Police have searched the SNP headquarters and Ms Sturgeon and Mr Murrell’s home as part of the investigation. A luxury £100,000 motorhome was also seized from outside the home of Mr Murrell’s mother in Dunfermline, Fife.

The SNP said it has been “cooperating fully” with the investigation and would “continue to do so”.

200-year-old fish figurine ‘used in card game’ discovered under Westminster | UK News

A 200-year-old fish figurine that may have been used in an old card game has been dug up under the Palace of Westminster.

Researchers believe the intricately carved token, made from animal bone, may have been used in a game called “Lottery Tickets”.

The game, popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, and mentioned in Jane Austen’s 1813 novel, Pride and Prejudice, involves two players attempting to match their cards to the values of those in the middle of a table.

The winner of the round claims a fish token, like the one found by archaeologists.

Its discovery was made by Roland Tillyer, senior geoarchaeologist at the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), as part of a major project to restore the Palace of Westminster.

He found the item while monitoring the digging of a borehole deep in the earth under the House of Lords’ Royal Court.

The discovery of the fish figurine was found while workers were digging a borehole deep in the earth under the House of Lords' Royal Court as part of restoration works for the Palace of Westminster.

Diane Abrams, the archaeology lead of the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Programme, described the gaming token as a “wonderful” find.

More on Houses Of Parliament

“It certainly highlights the value of the palace’s ‘hidden’ archaeology beneath its buildings and spaces and how even a single find such as this can contribute to its overall sense of history and our literary past,” she said.

Michael Marshall, a team leader of the discovery unit at MOLA, said: “Counters like this were commonly used at gaming tables in Britain during the 18th and 19th century and were used as tokens for scoring.

“A famous literary description of this practice comes from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice [published in 1813] where Lydia Bennet is described as winning and losing fish while playing games of ‘lottery tickets’.”

What else has been found under Westminster?

The find follows the discovery of a section of the original medieval Thames River wall, believed to run underneath the length of the Houses of Parliament.

Medieval timber structures, thought to be part of a river defence system, were also discovered during an excavation of Black Rod’s Garden in 2015.

Undated handout photo issued by Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Programme of gravel boxes with soil taken from a geotechnical borehole investigation in Chancellor's Court, near the House of Lords chamber, at the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London. Samples may have found the remains of a medieval stone wall likely to be at least seven centuries old.
Archaeologists may have found the remains of a medieval stone wall under Westminster

Read more:
Archaeologists find one of the largest ever Anglo-Saxon burial sites
Roman burial site unearthed in excavation of hidden Leeds cemetery

Previous ground investigations over the past few decades have uncovered an array of historical artefacts, including a centuries-old sword and buried fragments of King Henry III’s high table.

Those behind the restoration project say they have now carried out a milestone 7,500 hours of specialist intrusive and disruptive surveying work since July 2022.

The work, in addition to the tens of thousands of hours of planning and visual inspection research completed since 2018, will inform decisions about the restoration work.

Last year, a report by the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority suggested a project to revive the Palace of Westminster to its full glory could cost up to £22bn and take up to 76 years.

The authority made an agreement to preserve the palace, which was rebuilt in 1876 following a devastating fire, and to seek independent advice and assurance on the new approach to the works.

While there are dozens of restoration projects already under way, the future scope of the main restoration works is not yet certain – until approval is given by MPs and the Lords to costed proposals.

A vote on how to push forward with the work is expected by the end of 2023.

David Goldstone, CEO of the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority, said: “We’ll take the important data from this extensive research to inform our future restoration plans for the building, ensuring that we tackle critical issues and preserve and protect the building and the thousands of staff and visitors that use the building every day.”

Westminster Accounts: Chair of ethics watchdog says MPs should exercise more ‘due diligence’ over donations | Politics News

The chair of parliament’s ethics watchdog has said MPs should be forced to exercise more “due diligence” over donations, in response to Sky News’ Westminster Accounts project.

Sky News and Tortoise Media have launched a new database of MPs’ second jobs and donations – the first time they have all been collated in one place.

MPs have been accused of failing to provide “sufficient” transparency after our investigation struggled to uncover basic details about who is behind major donations.

Among the top donors to individual politicians are companies where little detail was provided in the MPs’ declarations about who they are, who is in charge and where they are based.

Search for your MP using the Westminster Accounts tool

Speaking to Sky’s deputy political editor Sam Coates, Lord Pickles said MPs should have to know and declare a named individual as the originator of a donation, even if the funds come from a company.

“It wouldn’t take very much to just to sort this out,” said Lord Pickles, who is the chair of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.

More on Westminster Accounts

The Westminster Accounts

“There is a degree of due diligence that members of Parliament are not required currently to do under the rules, but basically should be, which is pretty straightforward, which is ‘why is this organisation giving me money and do they expect anything in return’?”

Lord Pickles said it “wouldn’t be unreasonable to put together some guidelines for MPs to be able to answer some just very basic questions”.

“It doesn’t mean to say they have to do a line-by-line scrutiny of the company or employ expensive accountants to do so, but to be able to answer just one or two questions like who has given this money and who is the controlling thought behind that company and why they’re doing it.

“And just to simply say this money is to be used for this, there are no restrictions. Or this is to conduct research in a particular area. This isn’t actually going to put an enormous burden on members of parliament, and I think it will remove an awful lot of worry.”

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MPs lacking ‘sufficient’ transparency

Sky’s Westminster Accounts investigation has discovered that nobody had heard of a company donating hundreds of thousands to Labour MPs on a visit to its registered address, while the office of another company that donates to 24 Tory MPs was shut and apparently out of action.

Read More:
Westminster Accounts: 14 MPs given over £250,000 each in campaign donations since the last election
Rishi Sunak says ‘transparency really important’ as focus turns to MPs’ second jobs

When asked for comment, some of the MPs concerned were reluctant to discuss the details until after the stories were published.

Lord Pickles said there “isn’t enough transparency” and it “wouldn’t take a big effort” to improve this.

Praising the Westminster Accounts project he said: “I’ve loved what you’ve been doing.

“I’ve played around with the toolkit that you’ve provided. I would have thought from even the casual observer that you’ve not demonstrated or attempted to suggest there’s something sleazy about this.

“All you’ve suggested is that there should be a degree of transparency as to why the money is needed.”

Westminster Accounts: MPs challenged to provide more transparency over the source of donations | Politics News

MPs have been accused of failing to provide “sufficient” transparency after a Sky News investigation struggled to uncover basic details about who is behind major donations.

Among the top donors to individual politicians are companies where little detail was provided in the MPs’ declarations about who they are, who is in charge and where they are based.

When asked for comment, some of the MPs concerned were reluctant to discuss the details.

Search for your MP using the Westminster Accounts tool

In one case, Sky News discovered that nobody had heard of a company donating hundreds of thousands to Labour MPs on a visit to its registered address, while the office of another company that donates to 24 Tory MPs was shut and apparently out of action.

Hannah White, the director of the Institute for Government, told Sky News that MPs should be prepared to answer questions about the donations they accept.

It follows an investigation as part of the Westminster Accounts that examines two companies ranked in the top 20 list of donors to individual MPs.

The declared donations provide the public with little information about the true source of the money.

MPM Connect Ltd is the third-biggest donor to MPs since the last general election. The only organisations that have given more to individual politicians in that period are the trade union giants Unite and GMB.

The company has no staff or website and is registered at an office where the secretary says she has never heard of them.

top donors to mps

Read more:
Sam Coates explains the Westminster Accounts and why they matter
Westminster Accounts: Following the money
How to explore the database for yourself

The £345,217 of donations that MPM Connect has made since the end of 2019 went to three Labour politicians.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, has received £184,317, former mayor of South Yorkshire Dan Jarvis £100,000 and shadow health secretary Wes Streeting £60,900.

Sky News asked each of the MPs to provide an explanation or comment in relation to who was behind the donations and why the money had been given to them.

Shadow health secretray Wes Streeting speaking to the media on College Green, outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, after it was announced Liz Truss is the new Conservative party leader, and will become the next Prime Minister. Picture date: Monday September 5, 2022.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting

How did the politicians respond?

Ms Cooper provided a statement that said it was not to be quoted, but her entry in the register of members’ interests says the funding is used to “support my offices”.

Mr Streeting said all the donations had been declared in the proper way, and his entry in the register of members’ interests says the money goes “towards staffing costs in my office”.

Mr Jarvis said all his donations support his work as an MP.

MPM Connect’s entry in the Companies House register lists two directors – recruitment mogul Peter Hearn and Simon Murphy, the entrepreneur behind the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station.

The company’s accounts do not disclose where it receives its funding, what it does or why it donates so heavily.

When Sky News went to the office in Hertfordshire, where the company is registered, the receptionist in the building denied any knowledge of MPM Connect.

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‘You look confused…’

She told Sky News she did not recognise the names of the two directors.

“We’d rather not speak to you,” she said, before closing the door.

Mr Hearn and MPM Connect were approached for comment, but no response has so far been received.

Electoral Commission records show that over the past 20 years, Mr Hearn has made a number of significant donations to political parties. These have almost all been to the Labour Party, though he made a £10,000 donation to the Conservative campaign for the seat of Poplar and Limehouse before the 2010 general election.

In 2015 he spent £100,000 on Ms Cooper’s unsuccessful campaign for the Labour leadership, and Rushanara Ali’s deputy leadership bid, before turning his attention to Mr Jarvis in an attempt to dethrone Jeremy Corbyn and his deputy Tom Watson.

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How you can explore the Westminster Accounts

Broadband provider donated money to Tories

Another large donor where the public declarations leave ambiguity over the ultimate source of the funding is a little-known broadband provider from Blackburn.

IX Wireless has channelled more than £138,000 of campaign donations to Conservative MPs since 2019, despite only having two staff members, one of whom lives in the United Arab Emirates.

One of those politicians who received money from IX Wireless was Christian Wakeford, who was a Conservative MP at the time before defecting to the Labour Party in January 2022.

Christian Wakeford MP
Christian Wakeford was a Conservative MP before defecting to Labour in 2022

He told Sky News he had no “understanding or details as to who they were, what they were doing or what they wanted” when the donation was made.

Mr Wakeford said he had been told by Sir Jake Berry, a senior Tory MP and former party chairman, that there was a block of money from a donor available and to write an application for the funding.

“We’d put those applications in,” he said, “and we’d find out a month later whether those applications were successful and that the monies were going to our local Conservative association.”

“It was only at that time we were told the money had come from IX Wireless,” Mr Wakeford said. “I’d never heard of them. The first I’d heard of them was the email telling us.”

Mr Wakeford said he now knows more about the company.

Sir Jake was approached for comment but did not respond.

Minister without portfolio in the Cabinet Office Jake Berry during day three of the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. Picture date: Tuesday October 4, 2022.
Jake Berry pictured during the Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham last year

On a visit to the headquarters of IX Wireless, Sky News found the office empty with flooded floors.

Standing outside the company’s front door, Sky News called IX Wireless and spoke to someone who said they were a receptionist.

She confirmed that the address was correct, but would not say that she was inside the headquarters. After placing the call on hold for several minutes, she declined to answer any questions.

Founded by the entrepreneur Tahir Mohsan in 2017, the company was a successor to Time, a successful British personal computer brand in the 1980s and 1990s.

Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts

In 2005, Mr Mohsan’s computer empire abruptly collapsed with £70m in debts, making 1,500 people redundant.

Thousands of customers had to fight for refunds on products already ordered.

Shortly after the company failed, Mr Mohsan left Britain for Dubai in the UAE.

He has since turned his attention to installing broadband in the North West of England, receiving £675,000 of government funding to roll out high-speed internet in less connected areas of the country.

The company connected 500 premises between August 2018 and June 2020, according to government data seen by Sky News.

IX Wireless and Mr Mohsan did not return repeated requests for comment.

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Why do the Westminster Accounts matter?

Ms White, of the Institute for Government, told Sky News that MPs needed to be more forthcoming about the money they were taking.

“I think there’s a bigger question here… is that transparency actually sufficient?”

Ms White questioned whether it was appropriate for politicians to avoid questions from members of the press and the public over the identities of donors.

“If an MP is asked for more information, should they feel that actually that is something that they’re willing and able to give? Do they actually know the answer to some of these questions if they’ve taken money from a company that they don’t necessarily know how that is funded? I think that’s actually quite important,” she said.

Rishi Sunak sells poppies at Westminster Tube station during rush hour | Politics News

Rishi Sunak surprised commuters during the morning rush hour by selling poppies at Westminster Tube station in central London.

The prime minister was seen holding a tray full of poppies and talking to members of the public, some who asked for selfies, during a brief appearance to which no media were invited.

The Royal British Legion said they were “grateful to the PM for generously giving up his time to collect with us”.

Others were also quick to share their surprise on spotting Mr Sunak.

Lewis, an operations and data analyst who did not want to give his last name, said he bought a poppy from Mr Sunak for £5.

“I didn’t expect to meet the chap,” he said. “I went to buy my ticket at Westminster Station and he was there selling poppies with the military men and women.”

He said that having been critical of Mr Sunak’s role in Boris Johnson‘s departure as prime minister earlier in the year, he “turns out to be okay”, adding that he is “down to earth” and “approachable”.

“I was surprised he was there,” he said.

Mr Sunak joined several army personnel and civil servant Stephen le Roux.

Pic: @SonOfTheWinds/pa
Pic: @SonOfTheWinds/pa

Some were critical of his appearance, with one commuter tweeting: “Funny how Sunak has time to ‘sell’ a few poppies but not so much for major international conferences.”

It appeared to be a reference to the prime minister’s U-turn on his decision to skip the COP27 climate summit in Egypt.

Mr Sunak initially said he was not going, but later said he would attend the event in Sharm el Sheikh after facing a raft of criticism from environmental campaigners and MPs.

It was announced the morning after former prime minister Boris Johnson told Sky News he would be attending.

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Johnson says: ‘I am going to COP27’

Another social media user wrote on Twitter: “Good to see the prime minister helping sell poppies at Westminster tube this morning. We need more of this and less celebrity chasing nonsense from likes [of] Boris Johnson & Matt Hancock.”

Earlier this week it was announced former health secretary Matt Hancock will be jetting off to the jungle in Australia to go on the reality TV show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!.

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MPs and staff call for parliamentary authorities to urgently tackle abuse in Westminster | Politics News

​​​​​​​MPs and staff have called on parliamentary authorities to urgently tackle harassment and abuse in Westminster.

In the wake of a long-running Sky News investigation into bullying and sexual misconduct, pressure is mounting for an overhaul of employment practices.

Speaking in the third episode of The Open Secret Podcast, Jenny Symmons, who represents House of Commons staff for the GMB union and works for a Labour MP, said: “A solution to many of the problems that MP’s staff face in Parliament is to give us an independent overall employer and have our own independent HR service.”

Click to subscribe to The Open Secret wherever you get your podcasts

Calling on the House of Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, to make sweeping reforms that would modernise parliament’s workplace, she added: “I think it’s absolutely crucial for parliament’s reputation.

“I think that trust in politicians has really degraded for various reasons over the past 10 or 20 years.

“So we need to show that parliament is following best practice as a workplace. It needs to be the most positive example to other employers around the country of how a workplace should run.”

More on Westminster Harassment

Conservative MP Caroline Nokes, who has previously spoken to Sky News about her own experience of being subject to inappropriate behaviour, agreed that urgent change is needed.

She said: “I have a platform and a voice that I can use and I’m determined to use to give other people confidence to speak out.

“It takes a bit of bravery, but actually you know in your heart of hearts it’s the right thing to do to find that confidence, to call out things that you know shouldn’t be happening instead of shrugging it off or laughing it off.”

Commenting on the current systems that are in place to protect staff, she added: “It’s kind of a bygone era, isn’t it? And I think it would be much better if there was a far more transparent HR function.”

caroline nokes
Conservative MP Caroline Nokes

This comes following a Sky News investigation that found evidence of sexual abuse by senior political figures and widespread bullying of staff.

Speaking anonymously, one former Conservative staff member described being sexually assaulted by an established political figure in the party, whilst a former Labour employee recounted how she had been forced to “scrub stains from the carpet” by a female MP.

Many others described being exploited and said their mental health had suffered, with all suggesting that the systems in place to protect them could be improved.

A parliamentary spokesperson said: “Bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct have absolutely no place in the House of Commons and we acknowledge that there is still work to be done to ensure that everyone is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

They added: “Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme was set up to enable anybody in the parliamentary community to report bullying, harassment, and sexual misconduct in confidence.”

Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom, who was the driving force behind setting up the ICGS when she was the leader of the Commons, urged anyone being subjected to exploitation at work to use the scheme, but she conceded that the process often takes too long.

She said: “It’s taking far, far too long for people to get justice. And that is justice delayed, is justice denied, particularly if you’ve been sexually assaulted or if someone’s been seriously bullying you and it’s really affected your mental health.”

Others who spoke to Sky News for the investigation suggested that poor leadership had been to blame in recent years for scandals concerning MPs’ behaviour.

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Alleged Westminster assault victim speaks out

Former Conservative MP Margot James, who had senior roles under David Cameron and Theresa May, said: “It definitely got worse under Boris Johnson, without doubt, because people take their cue from the leader.

“And Boris Johnson had a record of the way he treated, treated and dealt with women, which is in the public domain, you don’t need me to comment on it, but I think it spilled over into taking the matter less seriously.”

Ms James had the whip removed over her opposition to a no deal Brexit.

Asked about the scandal surrounding Tory MP Chris Pincher, which eventually ended Mr Johnson’s premiership, former chief whip Lord Young told Sky News, he should never have been promoted by the prime minister in the first place.

“If I was chief whip, he wouldn’t have had a job in government,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Conservative Party said: “We have an established code of conduct and complaints procedure where people can report complaints in confidence. We take any complaint seriously.

“If an allegation of criminal wrongdoing is raised, we would always advise the individual to contact the police.”

Sky News asked Mr Johnson for comment but he did not respond.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “We take accounts of bullying and harassment in the workplace like these very seriously and encourage anyone affected by such behaviour to report it.”