UK MPs accused of using overseas trips for sex tourism – Politico | Daily News Byte

UK MPs accused of using overseas trips for sex tourism – Politico

 | Daily News Byte


LONDON — A number of British lawmakers are using parliamentary trips abroad as an opportunity to covertly use sex workers and binge-drink, according to MPs, peers, diplomats and parliamentary officials who spoke to POLITICO.

A former Conservative MP, now a member of the House of Lords, was asked by hosts for directions to a nearby brothel when he traveled to Southeast Asia to meet with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), which was attended by other MPs.

Another Tory MP and former minister was staying even after a delegation of MPs returned home to pursue their “interests. [local] women,” said two former colleagues.

“He showed interest in pretty young girls,” said one. “After these visits he continued regularly and joined the girls at the place in question.”

A senior Labor MP showed affection for “Russian girls” during a trip abroad, according to a foreign diplomat, who said local officials felt powerless to intervene because they were concerned about maintaining their influence in Westminster.

Particular concerns have been raised over the activities of “country APPGs” – backbench cross-party groups made up of MPs and peers focusing on a single country or group of countries. The groups are subject to less stringent rules than the well-known select committees of the House of Commons, but are still able to use parliamentary premises for their meetings. The focus of these groups on foreign countries means that they make regular trips abroad, funded by foreign governments or private companies, and often on parliamentary time.

As part of an ongoing investigation, POLITICO spoke to more than a dozen government officials and lawmakers in the UK and abroad who have verified claims of drunken, lewd or sexual abuse by some MPs and colleagues on such trips.

A number of MPs claimed that while some colleagues were quietly pursuing a genuine and legitimate interest in relations with these countries, others called the trip “fun” for entertainment purposes.

MPs’ ties to British overseas territories have repeatedly been strained, with local officials telling Politico that some MPs have attended parties hosted by diplomatic representatives at which young men and women were “supplied” for the purpose of engaging in sexual activities.

Some MPs were often active in asking foreign governments for full, expenses-paid trips abroad, the same local officials said, sometimes going as far as floating their preferences for champagne and large meals.

Foreign representatives have grown wary of such approaches, one said, and some have resorted to packing MPs’ agendas with as many visits and meetings as possible to reduce “free time” for potential misconduct. “There has been a process of desperation,” they added.

A former British parliamentarian said the government of one such region expressed “deep disappointment” at the behavior of visiting UK MPs “who see themselves as celebrities at their own meals – they drink and behave badly and arrogantly. They support fellow politicians.” are doing, the people around them, not their people [the host country] And unfortunately the waiting staff. It is stupid behavior.”

The Palace of Westminster which houses the Parliament of the UK in central London Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty Images

APPGs are allowed to use UK parliamentary space for meetings and special portcullis logos, but are not official parliamentary bodies and are largely unregulated.

Unlike select committees, there is no formal system for determining their membership and they usually do not have dedicated staff unless provided by an external organization such as a private company or charity.

MPs receive no remuneration for attending APPGs, and trips undertaken by MPs as part of their APPG activities must be declared in the Register of Interests. However, trips are not subject to any formal reporting process.

A female member of several country APPGs said the groups were traditionally “Labour backbenchers and Tory backbenchers co-ordinating with each other – usually men – to control all-party groups going to nice places.”

While the gender balance had improved over the past decade, she added, many APPGs still had a legacy of “stitch-ups” between like-minded male MPs.

A House of Commons Standards Committee report earlier this year warned that the potential for undue influence provided by APPGs “could represent the next great parliamentary scandal,” but did not comment in detail on overseas trips.

The Standards Committee recommended reducing the number of APPGs and introducing “gatekeepers” to oversee them. The government set out its broad support for the proposals before Boris Johnson left office, but there has been little movement since then.

However, allegations of inappropriate behavior are not limited to APPG visits.

The former Conservative MP used a sex worker on a visit to China, which other MPs jokingly referred to as “getting a bouquet of flowers sent to the room”, according to one of those present.

On a separate committee visit to a nearby European country, three MPs failed to turn up for a breakfast meeting organized by the embassy after heavy drinking the night before. On the same trip, a Tory MP lashed out at a member of the diplomatic staff in continued contempt.

Former Labor MP Christian Matheson was forced to stand down last month after a sexual misconduct complaint against him was upheld. A former member of his staff claimed he invited her on a secret trip to Gibraltar, which an independent panel on the conduct of MPs found to be sexually motivated. Matheson denied the claims against him, and there is no suggestion that he engaged in any misconduct separate from the support complaint.

Gibraltar has previously been the focus of allegations of misconduct, after two opposition MPs were accused of being heavily drunk during a visit organized by the Parliamentary Armed Forces Scheme. They dismissed the claims as “Tory smears”.


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