One of Theresa May’s closest aides is under mounting pressure as a Vote Leave whistleblower said he was outed as gay after making claims about the Brexit campaign’s funding.
The Prime Minister is facing calls to sack her political secretary Stephen Parkinson amid his increasingly bitter spat with Shahmir Sanni.
But Downing Street today insisted Mrs May had full confidence in Mr Parkinson.
Mr Sanni, who worked on the Vote Leave campaign, claims it broke election rules by using another organisation to get around strict spending limits.
As part of his response to the allegations, Mr Parkinson revealed that he had been in a relationship with Mr Sanni.
Mr Sanni stepped up his criticism of Mr Parkinson this morning by revealing that he had been forced to take security precautions for his family in Pakistan after being ‘outed’.
And another whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, said Downing Street had conspired in revealing his friend’s sexuality.
‘The PM’s office, 10 Downing Street, outed my friend,’ Mr Wiley told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. Asked about Mr Parkinson, Mr Wiley said: ‘Absolutely he should resign.’
Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Shamir Sanni said he had been forced to take security precautions for his family in Pakistan after being ‘outed’
Whistleblower Shahmir Sanni (left) claimed Vote Leave broke election rules by using another organisation to get around strict spending limits. As part of his response to the allegations, Mr Parkinson (right) revealed that he had been in a relationship with Mr Sanni
Mr Sanni told Good Morning Britain that his relationship with Mr Parkinson was ‘not relevant’
Mr Sanni is expected to reveal his evidence of spending rule breaches at a press conference alongside Mr Wiley tonight.
Mr Sanni told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘For this weekend has been one of the worst for me.
‘I didn’t want to talk about this at all because it wasn’t relevant. It’s not about me, people can look at the evidence for themselves.
‘I had to come out to my family the day before yesterday, as well as take out security measures back in Pakistan
‘I’m facilitating and providing evidence, my relationship is not relevant. It was just a campaign fling, it was not relevant.’
Mr Sanni said his claims about Vote Leave’s funding were about the ‘democratic process’ and he was still in favour of Brexit.
‘Nothing is in it for me, I’ve gone through a very gruelling process to see what’s gone wrong,’ he said.
‘As a Brexiteer I am someone who would vote Leave again, and again, and again.
‘All I know was that there was coordination and if there has been wrongdoing that people should come forward and say this.’
Mr Wylie, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower who disclosed the Facebook data breach, said Mr Parkinson’s actions had put Mr Sanni’s family in Pakistan in danger.
‘He was forced to come out to his mum in the middle of the night because No 10 Downing Street decided it was appropriate to out somebody,’ Mr Wylie told Today.
‘He (Mr Parkison) should resign for outing somebody and endangering his family.’
Mr Parkinson was boosted yesterday when a Cabinet minister backed his ‘integrity’.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt declared his support saying on ITV’s Peston on Sunday that he was ‘someone of the highest integrity – there are two sides to these stories’.
Boris Johnson, a leading figure in the Vote Leave campaign, tweeted to say stories about the funding row in The Observer and on Channel 4 News based on Mr Sanni’s testimony were ‘utterly ludicrous’.
Tory MP Heidi Allen told Peston on Sunday: ‘The whole thing feels pretty filthy and when you mix personal relationships and work it can get messy, as it has done here.’
She added: ‘You need to separate the gossip and the discrediting from what actually happened.’
Another whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, said Downing Street had conspired in revealing his friend’s sexuality (file picture)
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (file picture) declared his support for Theresa May’s political secretary Stephen Parkinson
The claims centre around Vote Leave, the official pro-Brexit campaign in the 2016 referendum, which is accused of bending the rules on election expenses.
It donated £625,000 to a smaller youth-focused group called BeLeave in the final days of the campaign. While this was legal, it would have been against the rules to tell BeLeave how to spend the money.
Mr Sanni claimed Vote Leave did exactly that – ordering the group to spend it on digital advertising with the Canadian firm AggregateIQ.
Vote Leave has denied the allegation, saying its donation was within the rules.
Mr Sanni claimed through his lawyers that he was ‘outed’ by Mr Parkinson in the run-up to the Channel 4 disclosure.
But the No 10 adviser said: ‘I cannot see how our relationship, which was ongoing at the time of the referendum and which is a material fact in the allegations, could have remained private once Shahmir decided to publicise his false claims.’