Conservative minister Kit Malthouse has said that naming the serving MP accused of rape would "put enormous strain" on him. His comments have divided members of the public, with some arguing that naming the accused MP is in the public's interest (pointing out that naming him may enable other alleged victims to come forward) while others maintain the notion of 'innocent until proven guilty'.
To recap, a number of allegations (the first of which was made in January 2020) have been made against the unnamed Conservative MP – who is believed to be in his 50s – including rape, indecent assault, sexual assault, the abuse of a position of trust and misconduct in public office. The alleged offences happened in London between 2002 and 2009.
Since his arrest, the MP has been released on bail by the Metropolitan Police pending further investigation. He has not been removed from his position as an MP, however the Conservative whips’ office has told the MP not to attend Parliament.
The decision not to name the MP has frustrated members of the public who believe he should not remain anonymous, however fellow Tory Malthouse told Times Radio [per Evening Standard]: "We have in the past had MPs who have been accused of not dissimilar crimes who have been found innocent or where no further action has applied and that puts enormous strain on them as individuals, as indeed it does on victims who are making accusations in those circumstances."
He went on, "We also need to be aware that the naming of perpetrators of crimes often can expose their victims to identification. And so you need to be sensitive in those circumstances too. Particularly where these crimes are of this very, sort of very personal and intimate nature. So there is a safeguarding and protection issue there on both sides, victim and perpetrator, that needs to be proportionate to the situation so it’s very hard to have a hard and fast rule."
His comments further ignited the debate already going on amongst Twitter users who argued over whether the MP accused of rape should remain anonymous. "How come when an ordinary citizen gets accused of rape and sexual assaults their name is splashed in the media but when it comes to a Tory MP, it's a different story. Levelling up again, one rule for them one rule for us," someone said:
A second person wrote, "Why are the Met Police and the Tories refusing to name the MP accused of a range of crimes including rape and sexual assault? Identifying him now would be quite likely to give other victims the strength to come forward." But not everyone was of the same opinion, with another tweeting: "Innocent until proven guilty!"
Why are the Met Police and the Tories refusing to name the MP accused of a range of crimes including rape and sexual assault?
Identifying him now would be quite likely to give other victims the strength to come forward.
— John Edwards (@JohnEdwards33) May 18, 2022
Innocent until proven guilty!
— PJMillen (@MillenPj) May 19, 2022
Another follower of the debate said, "Due process must be followed. The allegations need to be investigated by the police, not by social media." As someone else put: "His name should not be released just on an allegation. If he is guilty he must face justice but until then he should not be found guilty by the court of Twitter."
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time a serving MP has been accused of similar crimes – after reports of sexual misconduct by multiple MPs came to light several years ago, the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) was set up in Parliament. So far, more than 55 MPs have reportedly been referred to the watchdog.
For help with any of the issues discussed in this article, visit: Rape Crisis England & Wales, Rape Crisis Scotland, or Rape Crisis Northern Ireland. RASASC provides emotional and practical support for survivors, families and friends.
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