Sex assault allegations against Boris Johnson’s former Scottish campaign manager, Ross Thomson, were “malicious” and unfounded, a House of Commons inquiry has ruled.
Former Glasgow MP Paul Sweeney alleged publicly last year that Mr Thomson drunkenly tried to grope him in an exclusive Westminster bar in 2018.
Mr Thomson vehemently denied any wrongdoing, but stepped down as Aberdeen South MP when the allegations resurfaced in the press prior to last year’s general election.
The parliamentary commissioner for standards has now concluded, after a 19-month investigation, that Mr Thomson’s behaviour did not breach Parliament’s misconduct policy.
Investigators said that while Mr Thomson had leaned on his accuser and repeatedly put his arms around him, invading his personal space, the behaviour was not sexually inappropriate.
‘That simply is not credible’
The standards report, seen by us, states: “It seems beyond comprehension that those acts could take place in a crowded bar, without someone outside the group noticing or intervening
“It is beyond the bounds of possibility to let someone grope you even once in a crowded bar without reaction or admonishment.
“In the allegations, the groping went on for 15 minutes with no admonishment from anyone affected. That simply is not credible.”
The report, conducted by independent investigator Alison Twist, concludes “the allegation did not occur as described and moreover it was raised maliciously”.
‘One of the worst days of my life’
Mr Thomson, 33, a former MSP and councillor, said he wanted to move on with his life after almost two years of “living a nightmare”.
“The Sunday I stepped down haunts me daily, it was one of the worst days of my life,” he told us.
“I can’t tell you how devastating it was just to watch everything that I loved and had worked for fall apart.”
He added: “The last 19 months have been like a living nightmare; my daily life was affected by it, there was this cloud always above me.
“People in the street would shout things at me, it just was really, really horrible. I can’t describe how much that has impacted my confidence.”
Mr Thomson, who won his Westminster seat at the 2017 election, said Mr Johnson had been a source of support over the last year.
“I had a phone call with him when I said I was standing down; on my last day in the Commons he was terrific, he gave me a big bear hug, he didn’t want me to go, he said ‘you’ll come back, you’ll come back’.
“He’s kept in touch since, it’s not an ongoing conversation or anything but there’s the odd WhatsApp when he can. He’s been great.”
‘I love politics’
Asked if he would consider returning to frontline politics, Mr Thomson said: “At the back end of last year, I wanted nothing to do with it, I wanted to run away from it.
“But, I loved my job, I loved doing it and I love politics, once you’re bitten by the political bug it’s really hard to find anything else.
“So, I would hope to find something that is in some way political, but I don’t want to go back into any kind of frontline politics just now.”
Aberdeen City Council boss Douglas Lumsden, who stood for the Tories when Mr Thomson stepped down last year, blasted parliamentary authorities for the pace of their investigation.
“I cannot believe it’s taken so long, it’s something I would have thought could have been dealt with relatively quickly.
“Instead Ross has had to put up with all this abuse, it’s just an absolute disgrace.”
Investigators put delays down to “recess, prorogation and the general election”.
When approached, Mr Sweeney said he could not comment on the report for “legal reasons”.
The former Labour MP has until November 17 to appeal the decision.