University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Calls for Boris Johnson to remove Alun Cairns as Tory candidate

Becca Bashford

ByBecca Bashford

Nov 18, 2019

Boris Johnson is facing calls to remove Alun Cairns as a Conservative candidate after it was revealed that Mr Cairns was aware of his former aide Ross England’s role in the collapse of a rape trial last year, despite Mr Cairns claiming he had no knowledge of the trial.

Ross England was suspended as a Conservative party candidate and aide to Mr Cairns after it was revealed that he “deliberately” sabotaged a rape trial. England was providing evidence for his friend James Hackett, the defendant, who was later convicted of rape. 

During the trial, the judge made it clear that any evidence of the sexual history of the victim would be inadmissible, but England claimed that he had a casual sexual relationship with the victim whilst on the stand. 

The judge responded: “Why did you say that? Are you completely stupid? … You have managed singlehanded, and I have no doubt it was deliberate on your part, to sabotage this trial.” 

Ross England was selected as the Assembly election candidate in December 2018, just months after the collapse of the trial, and was later endorsed by former Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns. 

This week, the Conservatives claimed that Mr Cairns was “completely unaware of the details of the collapse of this trial until they became public”. However, BBC Wales published an email sent to Mr Cairns by his special advisor in August 2018, over a year prior to England’s endorsement and the trials collapse, which read:

“I have spoken to Ross and he is confident that no action will be taken by the court.” 

Alun Cairns stepped down as Welsh Secretary on 29 October in light of the leaked emails, but Boris Johnson is now facing calls from across parliament to also remove Mr Cairns as a Conservative candidate. 

Christina Rees, the shadow Welsh Secretary, said: 

“…neither he not any senior Welsh Tory have apologised to the one person who most deserves it: the victim herself. He should do the right thing: apologise, and step down as candidate”. 

The victim, who worked in Mr Cairns constituency office, said: 

“It is because of situations like this that women don’t come forward and report rape. He was aware that Ross England delayed my right to justice and made me go through another trial and still felt that he was a suitable candidate. This brings into question his judgement and the party’s judgment.”

In his resignation letter, Mr Cairns denied any wrongdoing, stating “I will cooperate in full with the investigation under the ministerial code which will now take place and I am confident I will be cleared of any breach.” 

The resignation comes amid further scandals within the Conservative party which are reportedly causing damage to Boris Johnson’s general election campaign. Jacob Rees-Mogg recently came under fire for comments he made about the victims of the Grenfell tragedy, where he suggested he would have had “the common sense” to leave the building. Earlier this month, Conservative MP Ross Thompson announced he was stepping down parliamentary candidate following accusations that he groped a Labour MP at a Westminster bar. 

 

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