Boris Johnson was aware of a formal complaint made against Chris Pincher before making the MP his deputy chief whip, it has been reported.
The BBC said the complaint was made when Pincher was a minister in the Foreign Office in 2019 or 2020.
The MP resigned from the post on Thursday after he was accused of drunkenly groping two men at a private members’ club in London the night before.
Johnson initially stood by his close ally, but Pincher finally lost the Conservative whip late on Friday afternoon.
Downing Street has repeatedly insisted that the prime minister did not know about any “specific allegations” about Pincher prior to his appointment to the whips office.
The PM’s official spokesman said yesterday: “The prime minister was aware of media reports that others had seen over the years and some allegations that were either resolved or did not progress to a formal complaint.
“But at the time of the appointment of the deputy chief whip he was not aware of any specific allegations.”
But according to the BBC, Johnson was previously made aware of a formal complaint about Pincher’s “inappropriate behaviour”.
The broadcaster said then-foreign secretary Dominic Raab was also aware of the complaint, which triggered a disciplinary process overseen by the Cabinet Office that confirmed misconduct by Pincher.
A government spokesperson said: “There are robust procedures in place for any members of staff to raise allegations of misconduct. It is long-standing policy not to comment on any matters involving individual cases.”
Meanwhile, Sky News claimed that Carrie Johnson, the PM’s wife, raised concerns about Pincher’s behaviour in 2017 when she was the Conservatives’ director of communications.
The reports pile further pressure on Downing Street to reveal precisely what the prime minister knew about the MP - one of his strongest supporters - before making him deputy chief whip.
Labour leader Keir Starmer said the appointment of Pincher was another example of poor judgment by Boris Johnson.
“I have got no sympathy with a Prime Minister who repeatedly makes bad judgment calls,” he told Sky News.
“We have been living with a version of this story for month after month after month. Bad judgment by a man who puts himself above everything. I don’t have any sympathy for him.”