MP at centre of honeytrap scandal resigns from influential committees, but why has the PM not acted?

William Wragg, the MP as the centre of the Westminster honeytrap scandal, has finally announced his resignation as Vice-Chairman of the influential 1922 Committee, the body that oversaw the election of Rishi Sunak as Prime Minster.

It has been reported that he will stand down as the chairman of the public administration and constitutional affairs committee, another highly influential group in the Commons.

But while, the MP for Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester has fallen on his sword, there is a growing sense of anger that No 10 and the PM have failed to take action.

The scandal erupted last week after revealed that several MPs and their staffers had been sent unsolicited messages and they quickly turned sexual.

The news website revealed that it had identified at least six men – four staffers, a political journalist and one senior Labour MP had received thew WhatsApp messages from two phone numbers by someone calling themselves either “Charlie” or “Abi”.

Then in news that shocked Westminster, Mr Wragg admitted that he had been caught by the honeytrap, admitting he had exchanged messages and pictures with someone he had met on the gay dating site Grindr. The MP went on to say that he had been compromised and had been blackmailed into providing the phone numbers of MPs and their staff, but “not all of them”.

As the scandal engulfed Westminster, Dr Luke Evans, the Conservative MP for the Midland’s seat of Bosworth, confirmed he been targeted after speculation that an MP from Leicestershire were among those targeted. In a Facebook video the popular MP confirmed he had received messages and had quickly reported the matter to the police.

The Metropolitan Police subsequently confirmed that it has launched an investigation into the honeytrap scandal, which could involve more than 20 people, including MPs.

In a statement it said the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command unit was “carrying out an investigation following reports that a number of unsolicited messages were sent to MPs over recent months”.

It continued: “We are working closely with other forces and are in contact with colleagues in parliamentary security, who are providing support and advice around anyone affected.”

Following the revelations, the Speaker emailed MPs and Staff urging them to contact the police if they had been targeted. A plea echoed by Downing Street, with the Prime Minister’s spokesman saying on Monday: “Anybody who has been targeted illegally should approach relevant authorities. It’s clearly important for anyone in public life to be sceptical of unsolicited communications.”

Then over the weekend Dame Andrea Jenkyns, the Conservative MP for Morley and Outwood and BBC journalist Henry Zeffman confirmed they had both been targeted.

But as the scandal shows little sign of disappearing, questions remain about why was it has been left to the MP to resign from his committee appointments and why has the PM not removed the Conservative Party whip?

A question seemingly raised by Dame Andrea who tweeted on Sunday: “Unlike some MPs I am not happy with #Wragg as a mother with a young child who only recently had threats, it’s unforgivable of him to compromise the security of fellow MPs. Action is needed!”

While one MP, who did not want to be named told “There is little sympathy for William, he has let down those who elected him and his colleagues, worse still he has put some of them at risk by providing their personal contact details…”

They continued: “…we all are at a loss to understand why has he still got the whip? MPs have had the whip removed for doing much less, but then they weren’t Sunak loyalists.”

The decision to leave Mr Wragg in place was also criticised by a prominent Conservative campaigner, who told that leaving him in place was “a mistake and sign of weakness” adding that if further revelations emerged “Labour and the public will question the PM’s judgement of not suspending an MP over a serious security incident that had potentially compromised many other parliamentarians and their staff.”

Alistair Thompson

Alistair Thompson is the Director of Team Britannia PR and a journalist.