Tonbridge MP Tugendhat hails decisive action over sexual harassment

    BEST FORM OF DEFENCE Tom Tugendhat is well qualified to deal with military matters

    TONBRIDGE MP Tom Tugendhat has missed out on a Cabinet seat after the resignation of his Sevenoaks colleague Sir Michael Fallon.

    Sir Michael stepped down as Defence Minister after being caught up in the ongoing sexual harassment issue.

    Mr Tugendhat, who only became an MP two years ago but is highly regarded, has a wide experience of military matters and was tipped to take the role.

    The 44 year old, who currently chairs the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army and served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    He was assistant to the Chief of Staff and is an expert on the Muslim world having studied Islamics at Cambridge.

    Mr Tugendhat has welcomed the zero tolerance stance being taken by Prime Minister Theresa May in the wake of the scandal.

    ‘Everyone must be able to come to work without fear of abuse or discrimination’

    Mrs May has called for a ‘common, transparent, independent grievance procedure’ shared by all parties. She also sought a dedicated support team to be made available to all staff, and recommended all criminal allegations be reported to the police.

    “The Prime Minister has acted decisively and I fully support her approach,” Mr Tugendhat told the Times. “Everyone must be able to come to work without fear of abuse or discrimination.

    “That’s important for all of us and ensures we are able to rise to the level of our talents. Any allegation should be investigated and action taken accordingly.”

    SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL Sir Michael Fallon attends his first public engagement since resigning, at the Weald of Kent annexe’s opening

    Sir Michael stood down, after journalist Jane Merrick contacted Downing Street claiming that the MP lunged at her and kissed her on the lips in 2003.

    It was revealed that Sir Michael also repeatedly touched the knee of journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer 15 years ago.

    On announcing his decision to resign as a minister, the 65 year old admitted: “I accept that in the past I have fallen below the high standards we require of the armed forces that I have the honour to represent.”

    The post of Defence Minister was controversially given to Chief Whip Gavin Williamson.

    Sir Michael, who is thought to be considering his position as a local MP, was also reported to have made inappropriate comments to Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the House.

    It is alleged that Leadsom, who attended Tonbridge Grammar School, reported him to Mrs May because when she complained of having cold hands, Sir Michael replied: “I know somewhere you can put them to warm up.” He ‘categorically denies’ the claim.

    Mr Tugendhat said: “Sir Michael has been an excellent MP for Sevenoaks. He has explained why he is standing down from government and I leave his words to speak for themselves.”