A Brexit minister who reportedly once called his secretary “sugar t**ts” and admitted asking the same secretary to buy sex toys will be investigated to find out if he broke ministerial rules.
According to a Telegraph report, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, revealed that Mark Garnier, a frontbencher at the Department for International Trade, is facing an investigation launched by the Cabinet Office.
Mr Garnier’s former secretary Caroline Edmondson told The Mail on Sunday that the married MP had given her the money to buy two vibrators at a Soho sex shop.
Ms Edmondson, who has since left to work for another MP, said that on another occasion, in front of witnesses, he called her “sugar t**s”.
The Mail said Mr Garnier had admitted the claims, saying: “I’m not going to deny it, because I’m not going to be dishonest. I’m going to have to take it on the chin.”
Mr Hunt told the Andrew Marr Show on BBC One that the Cabinet Office had launched an investigation into the incidents which are believed to have happened in 2010 to see if the Ministerial Code of Conduct had been breached.
He said: “These stories, if they are true, are obviously totally unacceptable and the Cabinet Office will be conducting an investigation as to whether there has been a breach of the ministerial code in this particular case but as you know the facts are disputed.
“What I would say is there are mums and dads who have daughters who are politics students hoping to get a job in Westminster and they must be able to be confident that if they get that job their daughter will not be subject to some of these behaviours that we have been seeing.
“It’s absolutely essential that we sort this out.”
He added: “This is something that covers behaviour by MPs of all parties and that is why the other thing that is going to happen is that today Theresa May is going to write to John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, to ask for his advice as to how we change that culture.”
According to the Mail on Sunday the remark apparently made by Mr Garnier had been a reference to the TV comedy Gavin and Stacey.
“The vibrator shop was high jinks. I hung around outside and she went into this shop. That was it,” he is quoted as saying.
The Mail said Mr Garnier had conceded that, in the current climate, his actions could look like “dinosaur behaviour”, but insisted: “It absolutely does not constitute harassment.”