Politics William Wragg resigns from 1922 committee amid Westminster honeytrap...

William Wragg resigns from 1922 committee amid Westminster honeytrap scandal

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The Tory MP at the centre of the Westminster honeytrap scandal resigned from his position as vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers on Monday night.

William Wragg, who represents Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester, last week admitted to responding to messages on gay dating app Grindr and sending on numbers of colleagues.

Several MPs, members of their staff and political journalists were later sent flirtatious texts, and in several cases explicit photos, from senders with the aliases “Charlie” or “Abi”.

The Telegraph understands Mr Wragg on Monday stepped aside from the executive of the powerful 1922 Committee, which represents the interests of backbench Tory MPs and acts as a conduit between the parliamentary Tory party and the Government.

It came as Bloomberg reported Mr Wragg had also stood down as the chairman of the public administration and constitutional affairs committee, another highly influential group in the Commons.

The Metropolitan Police has now launched an investigation into the honeytrap scandal as it emerged around 20 Westminster figures, including three MPs, had been targeted.

It said its Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command was “carrying out an investigation following reports that a number of unsolicited messages were sent to MPs over recent months”.

The Met has become the second force to investigate the scandal after Leicestershire Police said on Thursday that it had received a report of “malicious communications” against one of the county’s MPs.

In a statement, the Met said: “We are working closely with other forces and are in contact with colleagues in parliamentary security, who are providing support and advice around anyone affected.”

Downing Street urged MPs who had been targeted to contact the police, with the Prime Minister’s spokesman saying on Monday: “Anybody who has been targeted illegally should approach relevant authorities. It’s clearly important for anyone in public life to be sceptical of unsolicited communications.”

The Met’s announcement is a step beyond its position on Friday, when it said it was “in contact with colleagues” in parliamentary security and Leicestershire Police, and would “assess any reports made to us accordingly”.

On Friday, Dr Luke Evans, the Conservative MP for Bosworth, revealed in a Facebook video that he had been targeted by the suspected Westminster honeytrap and was the Leicestershire MP who reported it to police.

On Sunday, Dame Andrea Jenkyns came forward as another target. The Conservative MP for Morley and Outwood said she received the suspected scam message at the beginning of this year and informed the party whips.

Last week it was confirmed Mr Wragg would keep the Tory whip after Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, called his apology “courageous and fulsome”. The Telegraph understands that Conservative whips have had conversations with Mr Wragg since his involvement in the scandal came to light.

Henry Zeffman, the BBC journalist, is the latest Westminster figure to go public as a target of the suspected Westminster honeytrap. The broadcaster’s chief political correspondent said he received WhatsApp messages from two numbers identifying themselves as “Charlie” and later “Abi Miller” after he had blocked the first.

“Abi” claimed to have been an intern at The Times newspaper, where Mr Zeffman had worked until last year, telling him: “Always used to joke that you were the only fit one in the politics team.”

“Abi” later appeared to admit being the “same person” who had contacted the journalist the day before, saying: “I was sad you blocked me.”

Politico, which first revealed the scandal, reported that attendees at the Liberal Democrat party conference in October were targeted by a Grindr account going by the name of “Charlie”.

The user was “very open about wanting to sleep with MPs”, one former MP staffer told Politico, adding: “He asked for names of politicians. He never asked for numbers, but he did ask for names that would be interested.”

The report said the account was linked to a phone number that was used to target several people in Westminster.

A spokesman for the Liberal Democrats said: “It is deeply disturbing that individuals are being targeted in this way. We would urge anyone who suspects malicious online behaviour to report it to the relevant authorities, including the police.”

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