Esther McVey Says Media Must 'Go Back And Check' Boris Johnson Groping Claims

Housing minister says she 'stands by women' as well as the PM.
Esther McVey speaks during the second day of the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre
Esther McVey speaks during the second day of the Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Convention Centre
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Esther McVey has said “we need to know in entirety what happened” in the incident which led Boris Johnson to be accused of behaving inappropriately towards a female journalist.

The prime minister has denied claims he squeezed the thigh of Charlotte Edwardes under the table during a private lunch when he was editor of The Spectator in 1999.

Asked on Monday afternoon whether she believed Johnson or Edwardes’ account, McVey told HuffPost UK: “What I hear is he categorically denied that, and usually Boris doesn’t say too much about anything.

“So I think you need to go back and check whether it did happen.”

The housing minister, who ran in the last Tory leadership contest, added: “I stand by women. I will support women. And I will support our leader.

“We need to know in entirety what happened there,” she said. “Please let’s not jump on a story with only half the information.”

McVey said the media had to “get their brand right up there” when it came to reporting. “I don’t think they should be chasing the latest tweet,” she added.

The minister was speaking during a Q&A at an event hosted by the Institute of Economic Affairs on the fringes of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

The MP for Tatton, who had served as work and pensions secretary, told Tory members she had been targeted for “bullying and intimidation” because Labour did not like that she was a Conservative from Liverpool.

“If you know me at all I do not waver from my beliefs,” she said. “I am not the person to be bottled or to be wobbled.”

Johnson, asked if he had acted as Edwardes alleged, said: “No, and I think what the public want to hear is about what we are doing to level up and unite the country.”

Asked if she had made it up he said: “I’m just saying what I’ve said. What the public want to hear is what we are doing for them and for the country and the investment in ways of uniting the country.”

Cabinet ministers rallied around the PM after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday that he would “entirely trust” Edwardes.

Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Emma Barnett: “I know Boris Johnson very well, and if No. 10 say it didn’t happen, I believe that.” Chancellor Sajid Javid said he has “full faith” in Johnson.