UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday dismissed claims of sexual harassment stating that the people of the country is more invested in Britain's exit from the United Kingdom and "uniting the country" than the allegations.
Johnson was accused of inappropriately touching journalist Charlotte Edwardes's inner thighs during a lunch in 1999 when he was the editor of The Spectator magazine.
In a recent piece on The Sunday Times, she wrote that Johnson squeezed her thighs under the table. "His hand is high up my leg and he has enough inner flesh beneath his fingers to make me sit suddenly upright," she wrote.
After confiding about the issue to another woman who was sitting on Johnson's other side, Edwardes wrote that the woman said he had groped her as well.
Johnson denied the allegations in a television interview.
While the allegations are claimed to have been politically motivated, when asked whether the testimonial was "made up", he said, "I'm just saying what I said, and I think what the public wants to hear is what we are doing for them and the country and for investment in ways of uniting the country."
Several ministers including housing minister, Esther McVey said "no truth in these allegations". Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nicky Morgan also questioned the authenticity of the allegation.
The sentiments also resonated with Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly who stated that if Johnson states that the incident didn't take place "then I believe that" he was quoted as saying by BBC.
Chancellor Sajid Javid also extended his support to Johnson. "The prime minister has said that this is completely untrue and I have full faith in the prime minister. I don't doubt what he has said for a second but I'm not going to get drawn into these allegations," he said.
According to reports, the conference also discussed the identity of the second woman which was speculated to be Mary Wakefield, the editor at the Spectator and Johnson's senior advisor Dominic Cummings.
However, she denied the speculations. "I am not the woman referred to in Charlotte Edwardes's column. Boris was a good boss and nothing like this ever happened to me. Nor has Charlotte, who I like and admire, ever discussed the incident with me," she said.
Johnson's contentious past
However, the possibility of Johnson "pinching a knee" was apparently not "inconsistent" with his reputation pertaining to his private life, a minister told The Guardian.
The recent sexual misconduct allegations have thrown light on his contentious relations with several women.
London Council on Friday called for an investigation by Britain's police watchdog agency to probe another allegation by US businesswomen during his tenure as mayor of London.