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MP Menzies loses Conservative whip

today18/04/2024

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MP Menzies loses Conservative whip

MP Mark Menzies has lost the Conservative whip while the party investigates claims he misused campaign funds.

He is alleged to have used thousands of pounds given by donors to fund medical expenses and to have made a late-night call to a 78-year-old aide asking for help because he had been locked up by “bad people” demanding money for his release.

The Fylde MP disputes the allegations reported by The Times but the Conservative Party is looking into the claims and taking them seriously.

A spokeswoman for Chief Whip Simon Hart said Mr Menzies had “agreed to relinquish the Conservative whip, pending the outcome of an investigation”, meaning he will now sit as an Independent MP.

According to the The Times, £14,000 given by donors for use on Tory campaign activities was transferred to Mr Menzies’ personal bank accounts and used for private medical expenses.

The MP, who is one of Rishi Sunak’s trade envoys, is also said to have called his 78-year-old former campaign manager at 3.15am one day in December, claiming he was locked in a flat and needed £5,000 as a matter of “life and death”.

The sum, which rose to £6,500, was eventually paid by his office manager from her personal bank account and subsequently reimbursed from funds raised from donors in an account named Fylde Westminster Group, it is alleged.

According to a source close to Mr Menzies, the MP had met a man on an online dating website and gone to the man’s flat, before subsequently going with another man to a second address where he continued drinking. It was falsely claimed he was sick at one point and several people at the address demanded £5,000, claiming it was for cleaning up and other expenses.

The source said Mr Menzies decided to pay them because he was scared of what would happen otherwise, but did not have the funds to transfer the money from his own savings.

There are other occasions where Mr Menzies is said to have used money from the campaign fund to cover his personal expenses.

In 2020 he allegedly sought £3,000 to cover medical bills, but he did not repay the money and instead asked for and received a further £4,000, The Times reported.

The newspaper said a source close to the MP disputed this account and that the former campaign manager had been the one who suggested Mr Menzies use funds from the business account to pay his personal medical expenses, but she is understood to deny this.

A further £7,000 was received by Mr Menzies from the account in November, it is alleged.

In a statement to The Times, Mr Menzies said: “I strongly dispute the allegations put to me. I have fully complied with all the rules for declarations. As there is an investigation ongoing I will not be commenting further.”

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “The Conservative Party is investigating allegations made regarding a Member of Parliament. This process is rightfully confidential.

“The party takes all allegations seriously and will always investigate any matters put to them.”

Speaking to Times Radio on Thursday, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps suggested Mr Menzies is “potentially somebody who is quite troubled”.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said it was “frankly appalling” that the Conservative Party had been aware of the allegations for more than three months.

“When our national security faces threats on many fronts, it is deeply concerning that some MPs are so open to traps, threats and manipulations,” she said.

Mr Shapps said “new information” had come to light on Wednesday, prompting a conversation between the Chief Whip and Mr Menzies which resulted in the MP giving up the Tory whip.

Published: by Radio NewsHub

Written by: Radio News Hub


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