Conservative MP Chris Pincher has 'voluntarily stood down' from the Whips' Office and referred himself to the party's complaints procedure and the police following allegations over his behaviour, a Downing Street spokesman said.
The move comes after the Mail on Sunday reported that the politician had been accused of making an unwanted pass at former Olympic rower and Conservative activist Alex Story.
Mr Pincher is said to have attempted to untuck the shirt of Mr Story after persuading him to come back to his London home.
Mr Story, who was 26 at the time, said Mr Pincher poured him a whisky, massaged his neck and whispered: 'You'll go far in the Conservative Party.'
Mr Pincher then disappeared into another room and 'returned in a bathrobe like a pound shop Harvey Weinstein, with his chest and belly sticking out.' At that point, Mr Story left.
Tamworth MP Mr Pincher, a 48-year-old former IT consultant, said last night: 'If Mr Story has ever felt offended by anything I said then I can only apologise to him.'
In a separate incident, Mr Pincher is accused of 'touching up' former Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop, who told him to 'f*** off'. Mr Pincher did not refer to that allegation in his statement last night.
Tamworth MP Mr Pincher, a 48-year-old former IT consultant, said last night: 'If Mr Story has ever felt offended by anything I said then I can only apologise to him'
They are the latest in a series of shocking claims, including sexual harassment and bullying, which have rocked both the Conservatives and Labour.
It has led to the downfall of Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, the suspension of Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins, and a Cabinet Office inquiry into Tory Minister Mark Garnier for getting his Commons secretary to buy sex toys for him.
The all-party sleaze crisis worsened yesterday as:
- Tory MP Charlie Elphicke went into hiding after a police investigation was launched into serious allegations against him – as friends said he had been 'thrown to the wolves' by No 10;
- No 10 refused to comment on claims that it received details of an alleged assault by disgraced ex-Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon hours before he resigned.
- Tory MP Sir Roger Gale called the sex scandal furore a 'witch-hunt' but Labour's Harriet Harman said the revelations were 'long overdue';
- Labour was hit by rumours that there could be more allegations against MP Clive Lewis, who told an actor to 'get on your knees, bitch' at a party conference fringe event.
Writing in today's Mail on Sunday, Mr Story reveals the 'deceitful and outrageous' way Mr Pincher behaved after they met while canvassing at Tory HQ in Westminster in 2001.
Mr Pincher had stood as a Tory parliamentary candidate in the 1997 Election and he was a member of Iain Duncan Smith's successful Tory leadership campaign team at the time. By contrast, Mr Story, five years younger than Mr Pincher, says he was a 'political novice'.
After leaving Tory HQ, a group of activists, including Mr Story, who competed in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and Mr Pincher went to a nearby pub for a 'couple of pints'.
Mr Story then accepted an invitation to dinner at a restaurant but after getting into a cab, Mr Pincher took him to his London home.
After Mr Pincher poured him a whisky, Mr Story, who was single at the time and is now married with four children, says he started to feel 'woozy' on the couch. Mr Pincher 'became unusually tactile. He then started untucking the back of my shirt, massaging my neck and whispered, 'You'll go far in the Conservative Party.'
'I assume he was suggesting if I did what he wanted he would help me get on the candidates list too.'
Mr Story says that Mr Pincher then 'rushed into another room saying, 'let me just slip into something more comfortable,' and returned in a bathrobe'. It was like a 'sordid Carry On movie scene', Mr Story says.
Mr Story – who became a Tory parliamentary candidate four years after the alleged incident and fought three General Election campaigns – says he was tempted to laugh about the incident, not least because Mr Pincher was small compared to his own 6ft 8in athletic frame.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has resigned following allegations he touched a journalist's knee in 2002
But he said he had decided to speak out because Mr Pincher was a Government whip 'who now carries the weight of office and the power of patronage that goes with it. That may lead someone else, faced with a similar predicament, to go along with it. Particularly if they hope to pursue a career in politics, as I did.'
Mr Story said 'deceit' the MP had used in persuading him to go back to his flat 'went beyond misreading the signs. It was premeditated.'
Theresa May promoted Mr Pincher to third in line in the 18-strong whips' office in June.
He is paid £93,000 a year and his official title is Comptroller of the Royal Household, a 600-year-old ceremonial role which involves carrying a white staff of office on state occasions.
His position also means that he will have access to the notorious 'black book' containing dirt on all the other MPs.
Unmarried Mr Pincher said last night: 'I do not recognise either the events or the interpretation placed on them by The Mail on Sunday.
'Whatever may or may not have happened or been said was obviously many years before I became an MP. If Mr Story has ever felt offended by anything I said then I can only apologise to him.'
Mr Pincher is also said to have 'made a pass' at former Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop. A source said: 'Tom told me Pincher touched his leg, and he told him to f*** off.' Mr Blenkinsop, 37, who represented Middlesbrough from 2010 to 2015, declined to comment last night.
Mr Pincher's name appears on the 'sex dossier' of lurid claims compiled by Tory aides. His entry said: 'Inappropriate with male researchers and heavy drinker + apparently touched (or more) Tom Blenkinsop.'
No 10 declined to comment.
'He untucked my shirt and said: “You will go far in the Tory Party”'
I met Chris Pincher in 2001 when I was a super-keen 26-year-old Tory activist trying to make my way in the party. I went to Conservative HQ in London to help with telephone canvassing on what was then their new high-tech 'Geneva' phone system.
I was a political novice in those days. Chris is older than I am, clearly had connections, and had already stood as a parliamentary candidate in the 1997 General Election.
After the phone canvassing, a few of us went on to the nearby pub, the Marquis of Granby, for a drink and Chris came with us. After we had a couple of pints of beer he asked me in a Jeeves and Wooster voice: 'What about din-dins Alex?'
It sounded odd, but I was hungry so I agreed.
We then stepped into a cab and went south across the river, the opposite direction to where most of the restaurants were.
When I asked why, he said 'I just need to go back home quickly'. Arriving at his flat he poured me a whisky, as I recall.
I suddenly felt a bit woozy, and was sitting on the left side of the couch, leaning on the armrest, as he became unusually tactile. He then started untucking the back of my shirt, massaging my neck and whispered, 'You'll go far in the Conservative Party.'
I assumed he was suggesting that if I did what he wanted, he would help me get on the candidates' list, too.
Former Olympic rower Alex Story has spoken out about allegedly being touched by Tory whip Chris Pincher
I jumped up, a little bemused, and said sardonically, 'We've only just met, let's stay friends'.
He then rushed into another room saying 'let me just slip into something more comfortable' and returned in a bathrobe like a pound shop Harvey Weinstein, with his chest and belly sticking out. It was as if I had been transported into a Carry On movie scene, with him reading lines from a rather sordid script. My initial thought was to laugh, not least because Chris is very small and – at the time, a little portly – and I'm close to 6ft 8in and have years of training as a rower behind me.
At that point, I decided to make my apologies and left promptly.
As I made my way back home, I had the feeling of awkwardness that one gets when one's leg is being dry-humped by an overly keen chihuahua in front of elderly relatives.
Of course, it provided a great deal of mirth and merriment to my rowing colleagues and, perhaps, reinforced a certain stereotype of dodgy politicians.
However, my sister Christina and her female friends were irate. As much with me as anything else for treating it so lightly.
Their point was that it was maybe fine for me, an Olympic athlete, who could quite easily defend myself. But what if it had happened to someone younger, smaller and more vulnerable? They would have been terrified and quite possibly unable to extricate themselves.
They had a point, but, like many others, I just didn't feel like making a fuss.
In addition, at the time Chris wasn't an MP. But he is not just an MP now, he is a Government whip responsible not just for acting properly but for maintaining discipline in the Parliamentary Party. He now carries with him the weight of office and the power of patronage that goes with it.
That may lead someone else, faced with a similar predicament to the one I faced, to go along with it. Particularly if they hope to pursue a career in politics, as I did.
I don't believe that anyone should be publicly ridiculed for making a clumsy pass at someone else, even if it is ill-judged. But I gave him no reason to misread any signs.
I am a straight man. And the deceit employed to get me to his flat went beyond misreading the signs. I would say it was clearly premeditated.
While I in no way consider myself any kind of victim here, as a father of four young children, I am concerned that it could happen to someone else less able to defend themselves.
My sister Christina said that Chris's conduct was outrageous – and with hindsight, she is probably right.
By ALEX STORY: Former Olympic rower and Conservative Parliamentary candidate for three General and one Euro Election
Woman sent lewd texts by ex-Minister backed him for PM
The woman who was sent sexually explicit text messages by former Cabinet Minister Stephen Crabb backed him as Tory leader three years after the incident, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Despite her experiences, Tosin Adedayo subsequently defended Mr Crabb over lewd texts he sent to another woman, saying the messages did not show he was 'pervy'.
This newspaper can disclose that Ms Adedayo, a former aide to Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire, is the previously unidentified woman that Mr Crabb targetted with 'unforgivable' texts after a job interview in Westminster in 2013.
Last week, a friend of Ms Adedayo – who was 19 at the time – accused the married Mr Crabb of 'an abuse of power' over the messages, in which he 'said he wanted to have sex with her'.
The disclosure came a year after married father-of-two Mr Crabb's Tory leadership hopes were dashed when similar explicit WhatsApp messages that he sent to another woman were revealed.
Approached by this newspaper at her home in South London, Ms Adedayo, now 24, said: 'I didn't get the job. I moved on. I got another job.
'I didn't do anything wrong. If he did anything wrong, his name should be there, not mine. That's it.'
She declined to discuss the matter further.
Shortly after being turned down for the job by Mr Crabb, she was given a position by Mr Brokenshire.
Three years later, during the Tory leadership race of 2016, Ms Adedayo wrote on Twitter: 'If the Tory Party actually think about this, they'll choose Stephen Crabb for a fresh start.'
Tosin Adedayo subsequently defended Mr Crabb over lewd texts he sent to another woman, saying the messages did not show he was 'pervy'
She also defended him when someone said he wouldn't be a good leader because his lewd messages to another woman showed he was 'such a perv.'
Ms Adedayo responded: 'I don't think he was pervy. [It] wasn't like the woman was a teenager, it was just unfortunate for him.'
And in a further tweet she suggest that Crabb and fellow Cabinet Minister Sajid Javid should form a 'joint ticket' for the Tory leadership.
Ms Adedayo, whose family roots are in Nigeria, stood as a councillor for the party in the London borough of Bexley in 2014.
She works for Interel, a Westminster-based public affairs group, and previously worked at a different public relations firm where her clients include the Scotch Whisky Association and Unilever food giants.
Scandal: Stephen Crabb sent lewd messages to
The University of London politics graduate was described in a recent profile as a 'libertarian', whose political views stemmed from her business owner parents 'who raised her to be self-reliant'.
She said: 'I've had the opportunity to see what underpins each ideology. I've been able to pick which of them matches my views and my outlook on life.
'People should be free to aspire, to create wealth and they should have freedom of speech. No one should be hindered in any way by government regulations.'
'At university, I got involved in the Conservative Society and Right-wing think tanks. It's the circles that I move in.'
She wanted to help the Tory Party to 'shake off its tough, posh, white, aristocratic image.'
She said: 'Sometimes within those circles it's a bit of a shock that I'm black and Conservative, but people are coming round to the idea.'
By SIMON WALTERS and CHARLOTTE WACE