A serving metropolitan police officer has said that Chris Skidmore, Conservative MP for Kingswood, refused to provide a police statement in a sexual assault investigation into one of his parliamentary aides.
Skidmore strongly denies he failed to provide police with all necessary evidence. His former staffer, Callum Warren, was found not guilty of all four counts of assault on 5 November at Southwark Crown Court. The court testimony by the Detective Constable would have gone entirely unreported had it not been for one article in the conservative-leaning Spectator magazine.
‘On the 23rd of August this year, he [Chris Skidmore MP] provided me with an email declining to provide a statement,’ DC O’Callaghan said under oath at Southwark Crown Court earlier this month.
DC O’Callaghan testified during the prosecution of Mr Warren. The jury would find him not guilty of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old female parliamentary staffer from a neighbouring constituency office.
Prosecutors alleged that Warren assaulted the teenage girl on three occasions; once at the Conservative Party election celebrations in 2017, a second time in the toilets at Westminster, and on the third occasion, in the parliamentary office of his then boss, MP Chris Skidmore.
Prosecutor Catherine Farrelly told Southwark crown court the alleged sexual assaults happened amid an environment of “late finishes and a lot of drinking” among the parliamentary staffers.
Beside the trial casting a spotlight on cocaine use and heavy drinking by the parliamentary staffers, the case has raised questions about how helpful Skidmore was during the course of the investigation.
DC O’Callaghan told the jury that Skidmore provided the police with notes from a private meeting he had with Warren when the allegations were first put to him. However the MP declined to provide a statement when requested, claimed the detective.
A question which remains unanswered, is if a statement could have served as useful evidence for the jury; detailing how Warren first responded to the allegations.
In court, DC O’Callaghan described requests for evidence from the Conservative MP for Kingswood, saying:
“I had various contact with him. Initially he provided me with paperwork in relation to Mr Warren and his interview with him. He agreed to provide me with a statement, dates were proposed but weren’t suitable.”
The officer said they continued to email Skidmore and his office:
‘These were eventually either not responded to or ignored. On the 23rd of August this year, he provided me with an email declining to provide a statement.’
However, a Conservative party spokesperson told the Spectator:
“Chris Skidmore reported these allegations immediately to the Whips Office and the Parliamentary Authorities. When this became a police matter, Chris immediately suspended the individual and voluntarily provided the police with the notes from the interview he had conducted with the accused. Chris Skidmore offered his full support to the police investigation, complying fully with what was required and his actions allowed the case to be handled in the appropriate way.”
When asked to respond to the detective’s claims that the MP did not provide a statement at the police’s request, neither Skidmore or the Conservative Party Press Office responded to the Cable.
A Metropolitan police spokesperson, meanwhile, said: “We do not comment on not guilty verdicts.”