UK to investigate minister who asked aide to buy sex toys

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Cabinet Office will investigate whether an international trade minister breached conduct rules by asking his secretary to buy sex toys as widening allegations of sexual harassment roil Parliament.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Mark Garnier will face an investigation after the minister’s former secretary told The Mail on Sunday that Garnier gave her money to buy two vibrators at a Soho sex shop and called her a disparaging name in front of witnesses.

“The facts of (the report) are in dispute, so the Cabinet Office are going to look at it and see if there is a breach,” Hunt told ITV’s Peston on Sunday program.

The investigation comes as Britain’s political establishment faces increasing scrutiny over allegations of sexual harassment. The soul-searching follows the scandal surrounding Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was fired after The New York Times published an expose that detailed decades of complaints against him.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove was forced to apologize Saturday after he attempted to joke about Weinstein during a radio interview. Meanwhile, women working in the British Parliament have reportedly created message groups to warn colleagues about harassment.

Hunt said Prime Minister Theresa May would be writing to the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, to develop a plan to change the culture at Parliament.

Garnier’s former secretary, Caroline Edmondson, told The Mail on Sunday that he gave her money to buy two vibrators — one for his wife and one for a woman in his constituency office.