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Boris Johnson defended by columnist Toby Young over groping claims




MANCHESTER, ENGLAND — Commentator Toby Young has defended Boris Johnson over allegations that he groped two women at a lunch when he was editor of the Spectator magazine, claiming that when they worked together “people complained if Boris didn’t put his hand on their knee.”

The prime minister is coming under intense scrutiny after journalist Charlotte Edwardes wrote a piece alleging that Johnson had groped both herself and another woman at a lunch hosted by the Spectator magazine, of which he was then editor.

“Under the table, I feel Johnson’s hand on my thigh,” Edwardes wrote on Sunday.

“He gives it a squeeze. His hand is high up my leg and he has enough inner flesh beneath his fingers to make me sit suddenly upright.

“My mother always said: ‘Wear a badge to the cinema with which to stab the wandering hands.’ But this is work, so I am silent.”

Young, who worked at The Spectator during Johnson’s spell as editor, defended the prime minister at a Conservative party fringe event in Manchester on Monday afternoon.

Speaking at an event titled “Is the state killing free speech?” Young said: “I was at the Spectator with another guy covering the drama beat when the three sex scandals hit the Spectator.

“They were simultaneously called the Sextator. I wrote a satirical play called Who’s The Daddy? which ended with the Boris Johnson character’s mistress giving birth to blonde triplets.

“Someone is gonna dig that up and pretend it’s a documentary. As far as I recall, back then at The Spectator, in those raucous days, people complained if Boris didn’t put his hand on their knee. Times really have changed.”

A spokesperson for Johnson on Monday denied that Johnson had groped Edwardes.

“This allegation is untrue,” the spokesperson said, while refusing to take any further questions on the story.

Downing Street declined to comment on Young’s remark.

Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Raynor, tweeted “have we really gone this far backwards! What if this was your wife/daughter/mother.”

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