MPs who are being blackmailed should contact the police, not their party, a minister said, after reports that politicians are being targeted by an alleged sexting scam.

Earlier this week online news outlet Politico reported that a number of sitting and former MPs had been contacted by an unknown number detailing prior meetings with politicians, in efforts to acquire personal or sensitive information.

Treasury minister Gareth Davies said this was “extremely troubling” and urged those affected to go to the police.

Conservative MP William Wragg said on Thursday he was “manipulated” into giving personal phone numbers of colleagues to a man he met on a gay dating app, after he had sent intimate pictures of himself.

The MP for Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester, told the Times he was “scared” because the man had compromising information on him.

Mr Davies told GB News: “It is extremely troubling and worrying to hear this kind of activity takes place.

“Will Wragg has apologised for the action he took, but took in a set of circumstances that I think many could potentially sympathise with, and he felt compromised and acted in a way that he thought appropriate.”

Asked if other MPs who feel compromised should contact the Conservative Party, Mr Davies told Times Radio: “First and foremost blackmail is a very serious matter and they should go to the police.”

He added: “They should not come to anybody else other than the police if they feel that they’re a victim of blackmail.”

Mr Wragg said he was sorry for his “weakness”, which has caused hurt for other people.

He said: “They had compromising things on me. They wouldn’t leave me alone. 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.

“I got chatting to a guy on an app and we exchanged pictures. We were meant to meet up for drinks, but then 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.”

Labour’s deputy national campaign co-ordinator, Ellie Reeves, said: “It is very concerning in terms of MPs’ safety and their numbers being given out.”

William Wragg
Conservative MP William Wragg (PA)

Mr Davies said there is a “robust system” of security checks in place to protect MPs, adding: “Clearly, when certain situations happen like this one in particular, there’s only so much you can do.”

He continued: “We are alive to any threat that can occur against MPs and we have resources in place to tackle that.”

On whether Mr Wragg should have the whip removed, Mr Davies told Times Radio: “He is continuing as a Conservative MP and it’s right that there’s investigation into what happened.

“He’s rightly apologised and, as I say, that’s a matter for Will Wragg and the party generally.”

Leicestershire Police has confirmed it is investigating a report of malicious communications after a number of unsolicited messages were sent to a Leicestershire MP last month.

A spokesperson said: “They were reported to police on Tuesday March 19. Inquiries are currently ongoing.”

Earlier this week it was disclosed that a number of politicians had been contacted by a person who would allege that they had previously met.

Politico reported that these political figures had received the unsolicited messages from two numbers calling themselves “Abi” or “Charlie”.

The messages would include details of the MP’s career and campaigns they had worked on.

The honeytrap sexting scam has been described as “spear phishing”, a type of cyber attack that targets specific groups.

Spear phishing involves scammers pretending to be trusted senders in order to steal personal or sensitive information.

A Parliamentary spokesperson said: “Parliament takes security extremely seriously and works closely with government in response to such incidents.

“We provide Members and staff with tailored advice, making them aware of security risks and how to manage their digital safety.

“We are encouraging anyone affected who has concerns to contact the Parliamentary Security Department.”

PA has contacted Mr Wragg for comment.