Married Tory MP has whip suspended after being caught in secret tape ‘sting’

A Tory MP who has been suspended from the party over sex and drugs allegations could have been targeted as part of a ‘sting’ operation, senior party sources have claimed.

David Warburton, the MP for Somerset and Frome, is being investigated by the parliamentary harassment watchdog after a detailed series of images, audio recordings and messages emerged implicating him in unwanted advances to women and the use of Class A drugs.

One picture, which was circulating on Westminster messaging groups and has been obtained by The Mail on Sunday, shows Mr Warburton next to what appears to be lines of cocaine.

The allegations have emerged after the security services warned MPs to be on heightened alert for efforts at entrapment by ‘hostile foreign powers’. In Mr Warburton’s case, it is understood that a possible link between the release of the material and a foreign Communist party is being investigated.

A senior party source said: ‘We take all such allegations extremely seriously, but some aspects of this look like a right old stitch-up’.

David Warburton (pictured), the MP for Somerset and Frome, is being investigated by the parliamentary harassment watchdog after a detailed series of images, audio recordings and messages emerged implicating him in unwanted advances to women and the use of Class A drugs. One picture, which was circulating on Westminster messaging groups and has been obtained by The Mail on Sunday, shows Mr Warburton next to what appears to be lines of cocaine

David Warburton (pictured), the MP for Somerset and Frome, is being investigated by the parliamentary harassment watchdog after a detailed series of images, audio recordings and messages emerged implicating him in unwanted advances to women and the use of Class A drugs. One picture, which was circulating on Westminster messaging groups and has been obtained by The Mail on Sunday, shows Mr Warburton next to what appears to be lines of cocaine

Last night, Mr Warburton, a member of the European Scrutiny Committee, said: ‘I have enormous amounts of defence, but unfortunately the way that things work means that doesn’t come out first.

‘I have heard nothing whatsoever from the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme. I’m sorry, I can’t comment any further.’

The allegations about the married father-of-two – who has been a Ministerial aide to both the Education and International Development departments – centre on a young woman whom he is believed to have met two months ago.

He is said to have invited himself back to her flat, where he asked the woman to order cocaine. An audio recording is said to have captured the MP saying that £160 for two grams of the illegal drug represented ‘quite good’ value.

According to the woman’s account, she became ‘increasingly uncomfortable’ when the pair were alone together, and says she went to her bedroom to put on her pyjamas to make clear that she wanted him to leave. She claims that when she emerged, the 56-year-old politician had taken off his clothes, and he then proceeded to climb into her bed.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, the woman alleges that despite making clear that she did not want to have sex with him, he rubbed against her until he fell asleep. She has not made a complaint to the police.

Two other women, both Commons aides, have claimed that Mr Warburton ‘pressurised them into drinking more alcohol than they wanted’, with one claiming that he ‘grabbed her thigh at the British Kebab Awards’.

In another alleged incident, the MP is said to have kissed an aide’s forehead, stroked her hair and placed his hand on her thigh. One of the women has produced texts in which he said: ‘Have some cheeky coke obvs’, while in another he asked: ‘Does your dealer do Westminster Bridge area!?’

Last night, Mr Warburton (pictured), a member of the European Scrutiny Committee, said: 'I have enormous amounts of defence, but unfortunately the way that things work means that doesn't come out first. 'I have heard nothing whatsoever from the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme. I'm sorry, I can't comment any further'

Last night, Mr Warburton (pictured), a member of the European Scrutiny Committee, said: ‘I have enormous amounts of defence, but unfortunately the way that things work means that doesn’t come out first. ‘I have heard nothing whatsoever from the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme. I’m sorry, I can’t comment any further’

The security services have privately warned that an increase in international tensions with countries such as China and Russia could lead to attempts to target MPs who are vulnerable to being compromised.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle also recently urged MPs to be on their guard against approaches by what are privately referred to as ‘foreign actors’, including people with Russian connections.

In February, Ken McCallum, the head of MI5, said that Russia and China were both desperate to gain a foothold in the Commons by targeting MPs and their advisers.

He said: ‘It’s always been the case that people close to the seat of power will be subject to attempted influence. The assertiveness of some of that influencing might be on the rise.’

Earlier this year, the agency revealed that an alleged Chinese operative had infiltrated Parliament to interfere in UK politics. MI5 said Christine Ching Kui Lee ‘established links’ for the Chinese Communist Party with current and aspiring MPs.

She then gave donations to politicians, with funding coming from foreign nationals in China and Hong Kong.

Mr Warburton was also facing a probe into his financial affairs last night after it was reported that he borrowed £100,000 from Russian businessman Roman Joukovski without declaring it.

Mr Warburton was also facing a probe into his financial affairs last night after it was reported that he borrowed £100,000 from Russian businessman Roman Joukovski without declaring it

Mr Warburton was also facing a probe into his financial affairs last night after it was reported that he borrowed £100,000 from Russian businessman Roman Joukovski without declaring it

Mr Joukovski is a financial adviser who has specialised in offshore tax advice and providing tier-one ‘golden’ investor visas to foreign citizens, including oligarchs. But in 2014, the Financial Conduct Authority refused to certify him as a ‘fit and proper person’. Nonetheless, Mr Warburton brought the Russian-born British citizen into the Palace of Westminster and used his parliamentary email address to organise meetings for him. Mr Warburton has since repaid the loan.

Mr Warburton is one of the first to be probed by the new Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, set up in the wake of a spate of #MeToo scandals in Westminster.

Colleagues of Mr Warburton had noticed his dramatic weight loss in recent months: in January, he posted a photo of his new skinny frame, saying he had lost eight stone by ‘lifting weights, cutting out the carbs and switching from beer to gin’.

A spokesman for the Tory whips office confirmed: ‘David Warburton MP has had the Conservative Party whip removed while the investigation is ongoing.’

 Was MP victim of hostile power?

 By Mark Hookham, Senior Reporter for the Mail on Sunday

His eyes slightly dazed and with what appear to be lines of cocaine arranged neatly on a nearby baking tray, the astonishing photograph of Tory MP David Warburton appears to be damning evidence of serious misconduct.

Indeed, the Conservative Party yesterday suspended the 56-year-old amid allegations of wild drug-taking and sexual misconduct. The father of two is alleged to have snorted ‘line after line’ of the Class A drug at the London home of a younger woman in the early hours of February 1. She and two other women have also accused the MP of sexual harassment.

However, the extraordinary exposé last night provoked febrile discussion at the top of the Tory party about what to some senior figures are claiming to be a ‘stitch-up’.

The Mail on Sunday has learned that Conservative party managers are investigating a potential link between the allegations coming to light and a foreign Communist Party.

The Mail on Sunday has learned that Conservative party managers are investigating a potential link between the allegations coming to light and a foreign Communist Party

The Mail on Sunday has learned that Conservative party managers are investigating a potential link between the allegations coming to light and a foreign Communist Party

In response, to the unedifying allegations, Mr Warburton last night said: ‘I have enormous amounts of defence.’

The reports into his conduct have coincided with Britain’s security services warning MPs to beware of foreign intelligence agencies attempting to entrap them. Fears of spies launching such operations have been heightened by the brutal war in Ukraine, which has plunged relations between the UK and Russia to their lowest ebb since the Cold War.

In an interview with the Daily Mail in February, Ken McCallum, the head of MI5, warned that both Russia and China are desperate to gain a foothold in the House of Commons by targeting MPs and their advisers. But there is no evidence so far that Mr Warburton has been targeted in an undercover operation by Russia, China or any other country.

Three women have made serious allegations of sexual harassment against the MP, two of which are being investigated by Parliamentary watchdogs.

He is alleged to have ground his body against one woman and groped her breasts at her home, despite her repeated, explicit warnings that she did not want to have sex with him or do anything sexual.

The reports into his conduct have coincided with Britain’s security services warning MPs to beware of foreign intelligence agencies attempting to entrap them. Fears of spies launching such operations have been heightened by the brutal war in Ukraine, which has plunged relations between the UK and Russia to their lowest ebb since the Cold War

The reports into his conduct have coincided with Britain’s security services warning MPs to beware of foreign intelligence agencies attempting to entrap them. Fears of spies launching such operations have been heightened by the brutal war in Ukraine, which has plunged relations between the UK and Russia to their lowest ebb since the Cold War

However, Tory insiders have privately voiced concerns about what appears to be an elaborate and extraordinarily well-researched expose of Mr Warburton’s behaviour. Questions are being asked why a recording was apparently made of him asking a woman to order cocaine on his behalf, telling her he would pay. According to the Sunday Times, he was caught offering to pay for the drug, dismissing the suggestion that paying £160 for two grams was ‘spenny’ – expensive – and said it was ‘quite good actually’.

Doubts have also been raised around the apparently incriminating photograph. It shows the MP leaning against a table in a dimly lit room. The MP stares into the lens with a serious expression, his chin resting on his fist. On the table sits a whisky on the rocks and, arranged neatly on a baking tray, what appear to be lines of cocaine. Who took this astonishing photograph and why was he posing in this odd way?

Perhaps more pertinently, why would a relatively experienced MP ever pose alongside a significant quantity of Class A drugs in such a way that could not only torpedo his career, but could also see him arrested by police?

Yet that is not the only evidence that has been amassed against the MP. It has been reported that he sent suggestive text messages to a younger woman whom he had met through politics, apparently discussing taking cocaine.

Some senior figures in Westminster are quietly saying that something does not add up. ‘The whole thing stinks,’ one said last night. ‘Why is there an audio recording?’

Some senior figures in Westminster are quietly saying that something does not add up. ‘The whole thing stinks,’ one said last night. ‘Why is there an audio recording?’

‘Yep have some cheeky coke obvs,’ he is alleged to have written in November. Last month, he is said to have written to the same woman saying: ‘Does your dealer do Westminster Bridge area!?’

Some senior figures in Westminster are quietly saying that something does not add up. ‘The whole thing stinks,’ one said last night. ‘Why is there an audio recording?’

After all, such a comprehensive dossier of alleged misdeeds is highly unusual, even in a Westminster well-versed in scandal and the public humiliation of errant MPs. Elected in 2015 to the safe Somerset seat of Somerton and Frome, Mr Warburton is now facing a potentially spectacular fall from grace.

He is a former music teacher and businessman who goes litter picking with elderly constituents and volunteers as an organist at his local church.

A self-made millionaire, Mr Warburton has previously condemned the ‘appalling’ exploitation of young people involved in the sale of drugs and the ‘intimidation, violence and criminal incentives’ they face.

It was last night reported that the MP could also face an investigation by the parliamentary commissioner for standards after allegedly borrowing £100,000 from a Russian businessman without declaring it. It is claimed he borrowed the money from Roman Jourkovski, a financial adviser who has specialised in offshore tax advice visas to foreign citizens, including oligarchs.

 Quiet politician lost 8st working out in lockdown

 By Anna Mikhailova for the Mail on Sunday

David Warburton has kept a low profile in the Commons, not speaking once in the Chamber since the start of this year.

But he hit the headlines last January when he revealed an eight-stone (112lb) weight loss after fearing he was ‘morbidly obese’ because he had weighed more than 21 stone.

The 56-year-old MP said he was congratulated by the Prime Minister and Health Secretary Matt Hancock for his progress. He posted before-and-after photographs on social media showing how he had used a home gym to bring his weight down.

He said he had ‘got a bit obsessed’ with working out during the first lockdown last March – and also credited his weight loss to swapping beer for gin.

Alongside a photo showing his new physique, the MP wrote: ‘Not really into selfie posting, but today a bit chuffed to hit six stone weight loss since March plus two stone before that. Eight stone gone… No dieting – lots of treadmill and weights… and, er, gin. Who knew it would be fun..!?’

David Warburton has kept a low profile in the Commons, not speaking once in the Chamber since the start of this year. But he hit the headlines last January when he revealed an eight-stone (112lb) weight loss after fearing he was 'morbidly obese' because he had weighed more than 21 stone

David Warburton has kept a low profile in the Commons, not speaking once in the Chamber since the start of this year. But he hit the headlines last January when he revealed an eight-stone (112lb) weight loss after fearing he was ‘morbidly obese’ because he had weighed more than 21 stone

Mr Warburton had a career in music and teaching before entering Parliament as MP for Somerton and Frome in 2015, winning a majority of 20,268, thanks to one of the biggest constituency swings to the Tories. He has since served on the backbenches. He studied at the Royal College of Music and taught at its junior department before joining a London school.

In 1999, he founded a company providing downloadable music to mobile phones.

Shortly after entering the Commons, Mr Warburton became the chairman of the all-party Parliamentary group on music, and continues to hold the post. Last year, industry group UK Music gifted him a ticket to the Brit Awards, worth £900.

The 56-year-old MP said he was congratulated by the Prime Minister and Health Secretary Matt Hancock for his progress. He posted before-and-after photographs on social media showing how he had used a home gym to bring his weight down

The 56-year-old MP said he was congratulated by the Prime Minister and Health Secretary Matt Hancock for his progress. He posted before-and-after photographs on social media showing how he had used a home gym to bring his weight down

He is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a trustee of the charity Music for Youth and sits on the board of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. He is also a member of Mensa.

He was previously a member of the Commons European Scrutiny Committee and, under Theresa May’s Government, served as a Ministerial aide to the Departments for Education and International Development.

He is married to Harriet – a cousin of former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler – and the couple have two young children. Mr Warburton employs his wife as a communications officer and personal assistant on top of her work as a PR manager for an estate agency.

His father-in-law was Deputy High Commissioner to Malaysia.

 New probe over mystery £100k Russian loan

 By Georgia Edkins Whitehall Correspondent for the Mail on Sunday

Embattled David Warburton last night faced the prospect of another misconduct probe – into a mysterious £100,000 loan from a Russian billionaire businessman.

The MP for Somerton and Frome was revealed to have accepted the massive handout in 2017 from Roman Joukovski, a specialist in offshore tax advice and an expert in helping the ultra rich to secure golden investor visas to the UK.

It is not known what the lump sum was for.

However, under parliamentary rules, MPs are required to declare loans within 28 days if they are related to their political activities.

Embattled David Warburton last night faced the prospect of another misconduct probe – into a mysterious £100,000 loan from a Russian billionaire businessman

Embattled David Warburton last night faced the prospect of another misconduct probe – into a mysterious £100,000 loan from a Russian billionaire businessman

Last night, the MPs’ Register of Interests did not appear to show details of Mr Warburton’s financial relationship with Mr Joukovski.

In 2014, Britain’s financial regulator refused to certify the businessman as a ‘fit and proper person’ to offer financial advice, while a recent ruling by the Financial Conduct Authority also saw one of his businesses forced into insolvency, according to reports.

Despite this, Mr Warburton agreed to take on the £100,000 loan five years ago.

The money is said to have been funnelled to the MP via an offshore entity linked to the Russian’s family trust. Acknowledging the favour, Mr Warburton is then said to have taken Mr Joukovski to the Palace of Westminster and used his parliamentary email address to organise meetings for the businessman, including one with Jacob Rees-Mogg, who at the time was a Tory Party backbencher.

Insiders with direct knowledge of the transaction have confirmed that Mr Warburton has since repaid the money at high levels of interest.

If pursued by the parliamentary authorities, Mr Warburton could face another investigation, this time by the parliamentary commissioner for standards.

 Women who stood up to expose ‘Pestminster’

 By Georgia Edkins for the Mail On Sunday

When a list of alleged ‘sex pests’ was circulated around Westminster just before Christmas in 2017, many dismissed it as an example of yet more scurrilous Parliamentary gossip.

But then women started speaking out publicly. Tory activist Kate Maltby, 31, said Cabinet Office Minister Damien Green had made an unwanted advance two years earlier, suggesting that if she accepted his advances, it might further her career. She alleged he put a hand on her knee, and sent her an inappropriate text.

The revelations sparked a Cabinet Office inquiry into sexual impropriety. And Sir Michael Fallon, then Defence Secretary, admitted touching the knee of a female journalist at a dinner 15 years ago.

Former Daily Mail political reporter Jane Merrick also revealed how Fallon had lunged at her and tried to kiss her on the lips in 2003.

But then women started speaking out publicly. Tory activist Kate Maltby, 31, (pictured) said Cabinet Office Minister Damien Green had made an unwanted advance two years earlier, suggesting that if she accepted his advances, it might further her career. She alleged he put a hand on her knee, and sent her an inappropriate text

But then women started speaking out publicly. Tory activist Kate Maltby, 31, (pictured) said Cabinet Office Minister Damien Green had made an unwanted advance two years earlier, suggesting that if she accepted his advances, it might further her career. She alleged he put a hand on her knee, and sent her an inappropriate text

As the so-called ‘Pestminster’ scandal gathered pace, the Cabinet Office investigated Tory Minister Mark Garnier for getting his Commons secretary to buy sex toys for him, And Tory MP Charlie Elphicke was later jailed for three counts of sexual assault.

Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins was suspended by his party in 2017 following allegations he had sexually harassed a Labour party activist, Separately, Labour activist Bex Bailey said she was the victim of an assault a Labour event in 2011 when she was 19.

The Mail on Sunday also revealed Tory whip Chris Pincher was accused of making an unwanted sexual pass to an activist while dressed in his bathrobe.

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