Sins of the father that sound so very familiar: ANDREW PIERCE examines the claims against Stanley Johnson that he inappropriately touched two women
How far has the apple fallen from the tree? It is a question many will be asking this week with regard to Boris Johnson and his father Stanley.
Back in the summer of 2019, journalist Charlotte Edwardes claimed that, at a private lunch some years previously, Boris squeezed her inner thigh under the table.
He had put his hand ‘high’ up her leg, she maintained, and had ‘enough inner flesh beneath his fingers’ to make her ‘sit suddenly upright’.
And, she went on, when she mentioned this afterwards to the person sitting on Johnson’s other side, the woman replied: ‘Oh God, he did exactly the same to me.’
Edwardes then dubbed the Prime Minister ‘the double thigh-squeezer’.
Boris Johnson denied squeezing anyone’s thigh under the table. As for his father Stanley, he said this week he had ‘no recollection at all’ of a senior female Tory MP who claimed he had touched her inappropriately before adding he had no comment to make.
Caroline Nokes, chairman of the Commons women and equalities committee, accused Stanley of forcefully smacking her on the backside.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) pictured alongside father Stanley Johnson (right) at the launch of Boris Johnson’s ‘The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History’ in 2014
Former minister Caroline Nokes, 49, has accused the Stanley Johnson of inappropriately touching her and saying she has ‘a lovely seat’ at the Tory Party conference in Blackpool in 2003, when she was in her early 30s
The alleged incident took place at the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool in 2003 when she was the Tory candidate for Romsey.
Nokes told a Sky News panel on Monday discussing violence against women: ‘I can remember a really prominent man – at the time the Conservative candidate for Teignbridge in Devon – smacking me on the backside about as hard as he could and going ‘Oh, Romsey, you’ve got a lovely seat’.’
That candidate was Stanley Johnson who failed to get elected.
It’s not clear why Nokes, who did nothing about it at the time, felt the need to level the accusation 18 years later.
But in doing so, she prompted Ailbhe Rea, a journalist for the New Statesman magazine, to accuse Johnson Senior of ‘groping’ her at the 2019 Tory conference. (Stanley Johnson has yet to comment on this allegation, declining to respond to questions from journalists yesterday.)
If the rumpus causes any embarrassment to Boris and Stanley, don’t expect Nokes to be sorry. There is no love lost between the Prime Minister and her.
Nokes was livid to discover from a journalist’s Twitter feed that she had been sacked as a middle-ranking immigration minister in Boris’s first ministerial reshuffle in July 2019. She is a frequent critic of the Government from the backbenches.
Nor is it the first time that Nokes has made headlines about an unfortunate encounter with a man. In 2010 she was the victim of a sting operation which exposed her affair with James Dinsdale, a Tory councillor ten years her junior.
Nokes, who was married at the time, met Dinsdale at 11pm in a £129.95-a-night hotel three miles from the Commons, a sum just within the limit MPs could claim on their expenses for overnight accommodation.
He left after two hours and in the morning Nokes discovered a camera on the bed which had been hidden in the ceiling. She gave the device to the Commons authorities and the police viewed the footage.
Stanley Johnson, the former MEP and father of the Prime Minister, is alleged to have inappropriately touched Ms Nokes
To the horror of Nokes, they told her it contained film of her having sex with her lover and the tryst was then revealed in a Sunday newspaper.
Stanley, too, has endured difficult headlines when it comes to the opposite sex. A deeply unflattering portrait is painted of him in author Tom Bower’s 2020 biography of Boris, The Gambler.
In it Bower quotes Stanley’s first wife Charlotte – Boris’s mother – as saying: ‘He was completely unfaithful.’
According to Bower, Charlotte – an acclaimed artist who died this year aged 79 after a long battle against Parkinson’s disease – ‘found the pressure of her husband’s neglect and philandering overwhelming’.
The book also made the explosive claim that Stanley hit Charlotte and broke her nose in the early 1970s during a marital fracas and was hospitalised. Stanley insists the injury happened when she ‘flailed’ at him, and he ‘flailed back’ during the argument.
Friends said he deeply regretted the incident and denied he had been violent on any other occasion. But she is quoted in the book saying: ‘He broke my nose. He made me feel I deserved it.
Stanley wanted to be loved and wanted sex, and he wanted power. And when I contradicted him, it threatened his power.’
Crucially, Bower claimed that the astonishing event defined Boris – who has had at least six children by three women – as a man.
‘Not only had he watched her [his mother] suffer, but also saw his father blatantly cover up the truth.’
Whether true or not, Boris must have been influenced by the turbulent nature of their marriage which began in 1963 and ended with divorce in 1979.
Another biography, Just Boris, A Tale of Blond Ambition by Sonia Purnell, claims Charlotte was brought to the depths of a nervous breakdown by Stanley’s womanising.
In 1974 Charlotte was treated for depression for nine months in the Maudsley Hospital in London. She was re-admitted several more times with depression over the next two years.
At the time Stanley was working for the Common Market in Brussels. They lived in a house in the diplomatic quarter and she was flown to London for treatment. Boris was then ten.
The breakdown was not triggered by one incident, claims the book: ‘Just the accumulation of all the years when she was trying to bring up the family and Stanley was having affairs – away on his interminable trips as well as closer to home.
‘It built up and built up and she became more and more depressed and then it got so on top of her that she just cracked. What woman wouldn’t?’.
‘Charlotte had lived every day for years knowing that every woman who came into close contact with Stanley was fair game,’ the book adds. ‘It even included the wives of friends.’
After her divorce, Charlotte married again but her second husband Nicholas Wahl, an American politics professor, died of cancer after only five years.
Stanley wed Jennifer, an editor and widow of Scottish theatre director Robert Kidd. They have two children Julia and Maximilian and have now been married for 39 years.
Johnson Senior has described as ‘complete garbage’ suggestions that he has ever been a philanderer. Johnson Junior says he will not comment on his private life.
But what is beyond doubt is that they have both faced accusations of serial womanising over the years – whether garbage or not.
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