William Wragg
Amid a sexting scandal, Conservative Member of Parliament William Wragg, shown above in his Facebook profile photo, resigned the chairmanship of a committee probing the United Kingdom’s relationship with the overseas territories. (Photo: FACEBOOK)

A sexting scandal has upended the leadership of a British parliamentary committee probing the United Kingdom’s relationship with its overseas territories, but members told the Beacon they are nevertheless on track to produce their findings by July as planned.

Political drama exploded in London after senior Conservative Member of Parliament William Wragg revealed that a person he met on a dating app had “blackmailed” him into sending private information about fellow MPs and senior journalists under the threat of having “intimate” material released if he refused.

In the wake of the scandal, Mr. Wragg stood down on April 8 as chair of the all-party Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which is set to soon release the results of a wide-ranging inquiry of the OT’s constitutional arrangements.

The following day, Mr. Wragg said he was voluntarily giving up the Conservative Party whip in Parliament after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was branded “weak” by multiple MPs for not expelling him from the party over what some claimed amounted to a major potential breach of national security.

His resignation from the PACAC has left the committee without a chair, though Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has announced that a new one will be appointed on May 8.

A committee of the United Kingdom Parliament, above, will continue considering the UK’s relationship with its overseas territories despite the recent resignation of its chairman, members said. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Committee response

Despite the turmoil, however, PACAC members told the Beacon that the turn of events should not hamper the committee’s report into the UK-OT relationship.

Conservative MP David Jones said he believes the PACAC is still on course to deliver its findings by the end of the slated parliamentary summer term in July.

“The inquiry is continuing, and the election of a new chairman is unlikely to cause any delay,” Mr. Jones told the Beacon. “We are scheduled to have a final overseas visit [to Bermuda].”

No Virgin Islands visit

The VI, however, will not receive a visit. Despite the bulk of the UK’s OTs being in the Caribbean, the MPs are making fact-finding visits only to Gibraltar and Bermuda.

Asked why no Caribbean territories were being visited by MPs, PACAC spokesperson Filiz Gurer told the Beacon, “The committee made a decision to visit Gibraltar and Bermuda in relation to this inquiry, and it would not be viable to visit all 14 of the overseas territories. The committee is however grateful that so many submitted written evidence to inform the inquiry, including the government of the Virgin Islands.”

PACAC member and Scottish Nationalist MP Ronnie Cowan said the Bermuda visit will go ahead as planned despite Mr. Wragg’s resignation.

“The oral evidence sessions regarding status of the overseas territories [are] underway, and the committee is visiting Bermuda from 21-27 April,” he told the Beacon.

Mr. Jones said the report should come soon after that.

“I very much hope that we shall be able to issue our report before the end of the summer term,” he said. “I’m afraid I can’t say what I believe its recommendations will be. That is a confidential matter at this stage.”

However, with a UK general election in the works, his timeline could come into question.

If Mr. Sunak announces an earlier-than-expected election to be held in July, for instance, MPs would have only a few days to deal with any outstanding business before a dissolution of Parliament.

The Parliament initially announced the inquiry on April 20, 2023, in the lead-up to a May Joint Ministerial Council meeting in London, where the UK agreed to launch a new government strategy on the OTs. The review got under way soon after.


Mr. Wragg, who now sits as an independent MP, had already stated he would not run again at the upcoming general election.

The MP previously stood down from frontline politics for a brief period in August 2022 citing depression and anxiety issues.

In the wake of the sexting controversy, Mr. Wragg also quit as deputy chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs.

Mr. Wragg told The Times of London that he handed over colleagues’ numbers after he sent intimate pictures of himself, stating that the scam had left him “scared and mortified.”

British police are investigating whether the matter was linked to a wider incident where explicit images and flirtatious messages were sent to other MPs as part of a “spear phishing” attack.

It has been widely reported in the UK media that at least a dozen people working in Westminster, including a serving government minister, received unsolicited WhatsApp messages from two suspicious cell numbers.

Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley did not respond when contacted for comment on the committee’s decision not to visit a Caribbean OT.

Separate probe

In a separate probe that was reopened last July, the House of Commons Procedure Committee is reviewing how the OTs — which have a combined population of 270,000 people — are represented in Parliament.

That committee’s work on the issue is ongoing.