Crispin Blunt’s arrest not sign of wider cultural issue in Tory party – Keegan

Gillian Keegan has insisted there is no wider cultural problem in the Conservatives after senior MP Crispin Blunt was sacked from the party following his arrest on suspicion of rape and possession of controlled substances.

Mr Blunt, a former minister, identified himself as the man Surrey Police arrested in Horley on Wednesday morning, ahead of his conditional release.

The Reigate MP said he would “co-operate fully” with the ongoing investigation and was “confident” he would not be charged.

He said he was interviewed twice about the incident, the first time three weeks ago when he “initially raised my concern about extortion”.

Conservative leader Simon Hart is understood to have told Blunt to stay away from Parliament during the proceedings.

Education Minister Ms Keegan told broadcasters on Friday morning that she did not see a “cultural issue” within the parliamentary party.

It comes as Mr Blunt becomes the latest in a string of sitting MPs to be arrested on charges of sex offences.

In May 2022, it emerged that a Tory MP in his 50s had been arrested on suspicion of indecent assault, sexual assault, rape, abuse of a position of trust and misconduct in public office.

The Tory whip's office said at the time that the MP had been asked to “not attend the parliamentary estate while the investigation is ongoing”.

The latest extension for his release is until mid-February.

A Conservative MP was arrested on suspicion of rape in 2020. He was never identified and police took no further action after an investigation.

Ms Keegan told Times Radio: “I certainly don't see a cultural issue among Conservative MPs. I see individual incidents that are all being investigated as such.”

He added: “Due to the serious nature of the allegations … he suspended his whipping but the police are now so involved beyond that it's not really appropriate for me to comment further.

“The Prime Minister has been clear about high standards, he expects high standards, he always follows due process, but all you can do with these things is deal with them as they arise and take appropriate action.”

Asked about the allegations of “sleaze” within her party, Ms Keegan told LBC: “I've been in Parliament for six years and I have to say frankly, personally, I've never seen any impact or any kind of the behavior”.

After identifying himself, Mr Blunt suspended the whip pending the outcome of the police investigation, meaning he is now an Independent.

Mr Blunt wrote on social media: “It has been reported that an MP was arrested yesterday in connection with an allegation of rape. I confirm that the member of parliament was me.

“The arrest was unnecessary as I remain prepared to cooperate fully with the investigation which I am confident will conclude without charges being laid.

“I do not intend to say anything more about this matter until the police have completed their inquiries.”

He served in the Ministry of Justice as minister responsible for prisons and jails between 2010 and 2012.

Police could not say if the controlled substances were narcotics as tests are underway.

On Thursday, a police spokesman said: “We can confirm that a man was arrested yesterday morning in Horley on suspicion of rape and possession of controlled substances.

“He has been released on limited police bail pending further enquiries.”

Mr Blunt was first elected in 1997 and has said he does not intend to seek re-election.