Ross Thomson: Former Tory MP cleared of groping Labour politician

  • Published
Media caption,
Ross Thomson speaks to BBC Scotland about his experience over the last two years.

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.

He said he was unable to comment for legal reasons.

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

He described the last two years as "a living hell".

'Move on with life'

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.

He told BBC Scotland News: "I welcome the decision, the fact the truth is now out there, and that I can move on with my life now.

"The last two years have been really hellish, a living nightmare, I regret the length of time it has taken. It has been a really robust process."

An emotional Mr Thomson said of his experience: "I don't think anyone deserves that".

He said he was now looking at "all the legal options".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Mr Sweeney was with a group of friends in the Commons bar when the incident happened

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.

The news that Mr Thomson had been cleared was first revealed by The Times newspaper.

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.