Ross Thomson: Former Tory MP cleared of groping Labour politician

Ross Thomson: Former Tory MP cleared of groping Labour politician

A former Labour MP’s claim that he was groped by a Conservative politician in a House of Commons bar was unfounded, an investigation has concluded.

Paul Sweeney accused then-Tory MP Ross Thomson of trying to fondle his genitals and force his hand down his trousers.

But the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has now cleared Mr Thomson after an inquiry.

She said witness statements did not support Mr Sweeney’s version of events.

And while she said that Mr Thomson had invaded his accuser’s personal space by leaning on him and repeatedly putting his arm around him, she concluded that this did not amount to being sexually inappropriate.

The incident was alleged to have happened in the Strangers’ Bar at Westminster on 30 October 2018.

Mr Sweeney, who lost his seat as the Labour MP for Glasgow North East in last year’s general election, has until 17 November to appeal against the ruling.

Mr Thomson, who had always strenuously denied the allegations, did not seek re-election as the MP for Aberdeen South last year.

He welcomed the commissioner’s decision and described the last two years as “a living hell”.

Mr Thomson said he had been forced to give up his job and been the target of “unrelenting abuse” as a result of the allegations, which he said had “irreparably damaged” his reputation.

Mr Sweeney had accused Mr Thomson of leaning on him and repeatedly groping his backside and genitals.

He also claimed Mr Thomson had attempted to put his hand down his trousers, had invaded his personal space and touched him inappropriately for several minutes, and had stroked him while sitting on the arm of his chair.

It is understood that the commissioner concluded that Mr Thomson – who is said to have admitted to investigators that he was drunk at the time – had put his arm around Mr Sweeney and invaded his personal space, but that it was not sexual in nature.

The commissioner also found that statements from witnesses who had been close by at the time did not support Mr Sweeney’s claims that Mr Thomson had groped or stroked him.

And the commissioner said it was unlikely that people in the crowded bar would not have noticed if Mr Ross had acted in the way that had been alleged by Mr Sweeney.

It is also understood that the commissioner was concerned that the detail of Mr Sweeney’s claims changed over time – but concluded that there was no evidence to suggest the allegations had been made maliciously.

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