Monday, December 8, 2014

UK MP Mark Pritchard has been arrested over an allegation of rape.

Mark Pritchard is the Conservative MP for The Wrekin, in east Shropshire
Mark Pritchard is the Conservative MP for The Wrekin, in east Shropshire. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian
Josh Halliday and Haroon Siddique | The Guardian,
The Metropolitan police confirmed that a 48-year-old man – understood to be the Tory MP for The Wrekin in east Shropshire – was arrested on Tuesday in central London.

Scotland Yard said he was arrested after voluntarily attending a police station and had been bailed until early January.

The news emerged after a letter from the Met to the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, about the arrest was referred to on a publicly available Commons order paper.

The letter said: “I write to inform you that on 2nd December 2014, Mark Pritchard MP was arrested at 6.14pm at Holborn police station in London by MPS officers.

“Mr Pritchard was questioned by police and released on bail later the same evening at 10.16pm. The matter is subject to further investigation and is sub judice at the present time.”

A Conservative party spokesman said the arrest of Pritchard was a police matter and something on which it could not comment.

Pritchard has been MP for The Wrekin since 2005. He is a member of the UK joint national security strategy committee, which considers the threat posed to Britain by terrorism, cyberwar, global military crises and natural disasters.

Before his arrest, Pritchard was in the Commons taking part in a debate on the peace process in Colombia. He was one of the first to speak in a debate starting at 11.30am and was arrested seven hours later.

On Wednesday, his official website published news of his visit to Hadley Learning Community in Shropshire to boost grassroots football in the area.

Pritchard said in September that he had been targeted by a journalist as part of the sting that brought down the Tory minister Brooks Newmark. Pritchard said he had been contacted by a male freelance reporter who, using Twitter, adopted the false identity of “Sophie Wittams”, supposedly a “twentysomething Tory PR girl”.

Last month, Pritchard withdrew his complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) and said he had agreed a confidential settlement.

There was no reply when the Guardian attempted to contact Pritchard’s constituency and parliamentary offices.

Pritchard reportedly divorced his wife of 15 years, Sonya, last year. He had employed her as his office manager.

A former marketing communications director, Pritchard ran his own consultancy advising blue-chip companies before entering parliament.

He began his political career as a Conservative councillor on Harrow London borough council between 1993 and 1994. In 2001, he stood for election as the Tory candidate for Warley in the West Midlands but was defeated by Labour’s John Spellar. He was elected to represent The Wrekin in 2005, defeating the incumbent Labour MP, Peter Bradley, by just 942 votes.

Since entering Westminster, he has sat on a number of parliamentary groups – chiefly concerning the armed forces – and was joint secretary of the Conservatives’ 1922 committee from 2010-12.

Pritchard was at the centre of a political storm in 2010 when he confronted Bercow, yelling: “You are not fucking royalty, Mr Speaker!” after the latter had told him to stand aside in a corridor.

According to the register of members’ interests, Pritchard’s private company, Mark Pritchard Advisory Ltd, received more than £28,000 from the security consultancy firm Soufan Group between September 2013 and October 2014.

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