Senior Tory MP to stand down at next general election amid ‘complaints’
A senior MP has announced he will stand down at the next general election after his demand to have the Tory whip restored was rejected.
Julian Knight claimed a “false and malicious accusation” left him no choice but to end his career in the party.
The MP for Solihull was suspended as a Conservative after a serious sexual assault allegation was made against him, which the Metropolitan Police has since dropped.
Following their decision, Mr Knight made a request for “immediate return” to the parliamentary party – which was rejected following “further complaints.”
I will not be standing for the Conservatives or any other party at the next general election
In statement on Friday, the MP said it had been “the worst year of our lives” for him and his wife.
He said: “I will not be standing for the Conservatives or any other party at the next general election. The past year has been for my wife and I the worst of our lives.
“The false and malicious accusation brought against me last December did untold damage to my physical and mental wellbeing as well as causing pain and distress to my loved ones.
“When the police finally exonerated me, without ever needing to interview me, I believed the nightmare was over. It seemed that justice, although delayed, had prevailed.
“However, the Whips’ Office immediately made a statement about unspecified further complaints which, tarnished my name and left my family and me in limbo.”
I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that no job or political career is worth this
Mr Knight said he had attempted to find out the nature of the complaint but that information has not been “forthcoming” from the Whips’ Office.
“I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that no job or political career is worth this,” he continued.
“I will not be requesting the return of the Conservative whip. I do this in sorrow and not in anger.”
Mr Knight, who has been MP for Solihull since 2015, will now sit as an independent until the next general election, he said.
He had launched an extraordinary attack on his former party colleagues last month after Chief Whip Simon Hart moved swiftly to confirm he would not be rejoining the party, despite the Met’s decision.
Mr Knight, who will also step down from his role as chairman of the Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, accused the Whips’ Office of pursuing a “witch hunt” against him in a bid to stop him “naming names”.
The MP had strongly criticised the Whips’ Office and the Met in a statement following the police decision to drop the investigation into the “single, false and malicious allegation”.
“In publicly naming me in connection with the allegation, the Conservative Whips’ Office acted disgracefully and in breach of natural justice by removing my anonymity. Their actions meant my name was dragged through the mud and my good reputation immeasurably damaged,” he said
“The conduct of one person in the Whips’ Office, and the language used towards me, was particularly egregious.”
Mr Knight also pledged to use “every legal route available to pursue those inside and outside Parliament” involved in the allegation.
A spokeswoman for Mr Hart said: “Following further complaints made to the Whips’ Office, we will not be restoring the whip to Julian Knight.
“These complaints, if appropriate, will be referred to the relevant police force, or appropriate bodies.”
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