Westminster honey trap: Tory MP ‘mortified’ after sharing private numbers with Grindr contact

Conservative William Wragg MP has admitted sending the personal phone numbers of other parliamentary figures to someone he met on Grindr.

William Wragg, the MP for Hazel Grove, in Greater Manchester, and the deputy chairman of the influential of 1922 Committee, told The Times he provided the contact details after sharing intimate pictures of himself with a person he met on the gay dating app.

Wragg claimed he was “scared” because the Grindr match had “compromising things on me” and they “wouldn’t leave me alone”.

The revelation comes amid reports that at least 12 men in Westminster have been targeted by a “honey trap” scheme, with MPs, staffers and political journalists receiving unsolicited messages – including explicit pictures – from people calling themselves Charlie or Abi.

“They would ask for people. I gave them some numbers, not all of them. I told him to stop. He’s manipulated me and now I’ve hurt other people,” William Wragg, who was first elected in 2015, said.

“I got chatting to a guy on an app and we exchanged pictures. We were meant to meet up for drinks, but didn’t. Then he started asking for numbers of people. I was worried because he had stuff on me. He gave me a WhatsApp number, which doesn’t work now.

“I’ve hurt people by being weak. I was scared. I’m mortified. I’m so sorry that my weakness has caused other people hurt.”

Numerous reports say Wragg will keep the whip, despite the latest scandal to hit the Conservative Party.

The MP sent intimate images of himself after the meeting on the gay dating app. (Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Speaking anonymously to the BBC last week, one former MP described how they received messages from an unknown number but did not realise they were part of a wider scheme until they read coverage of the story on Politico.

“My heart did start racing because I thought everything, from the name of the individual, the familiarity, this is too close to be just a coincidence,” they said.

The former MP, who is gay, was sent a message by someone claiming to be called Charlie who said they knew each other from when he worked in parliament.

“The last part of that message was ‘Westminster misses you…’ and that was basically something that friends usually do say to make me feel better,” he told BBC News.

“I was starting to feel bad. I was embarrassed, thinking I [was] speaking to someone who knows who I am and I’m trying desperately not to come across as rude.”

In following messages, “Charlie” said he was single, to which the unnamed politician responded that he was in a relationship. But the flirting continued and he was sent a sexual image.

The former MP then blocked the number.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the House of Commons speaker, has informed MPs that the parliamentary security department was looking into the matter and urged anyone with information to come forward.

What is a honey trap?

A “honey trap” is a term used to describe using sexual and/or romantic relationships for personal, political or monetary gain.

In essence, it is when someone poses as being romantically and/or sexually interested in a victim in order to extract information, blackmail or gain influence over them.

In the Cold War, for example, female agents were used by the KGB to seduce foreign officials, enabling them to spy on them.

One of the most famous instances of this was the Profumo Affair, in 1963, which ultimately led to the downfall of the Tory government.