Tory MP loses whip after claims he used party funds to pay ‘bad people’

Estimated read time 4 min read

A Conservative MP has lost the party whip over allegations he misused campaign funds and demanded thousands of pounds from an aide to pay off “bad people” in the middle of the night.

Mark Menzies, 52, was suspended from the Tory parliamentary party on Wednesday night while an investigation is carried out.

The Conservatives took action after the allegations were made public in a report by the Times.

Grant Shapps, the defence secretary, said the party had been aware of the claims “for a while” but “further information came to light yesterday”.

Shapps told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I understand that CCHQ have been aware for it for a while and have been investigating, and I think some new investigation has come to light subsequently.”

Menzies denies the allegations and maintains he has followed all the rules about funding declarations.

The case is the latest alleged misconduct scandal to rock the Conservative party. It comes only weeks after William Wragg, another MP who has now lost the Tory whip, claimed he handed over colleagues’ personal numbers to someone who had compromising material on him.

According to the Times, Menzies phoned his former campaign manager, now a party volunteer, at 3.15am one night in December saying he was locked in a flat by “some bad people” and needed £5,000 as a matter of “life and death”.

Hours later, Menzies’ campaign manager paid him the sum, which had risen to £6,500, from her personal savings. She was reimbursed from campaign donations, the paper said.

According to an account given to the Times by a source close to Menzies, he asked for the money after meeting a man he met on a dating website. The source said Menzies had gone to the man’s flat, before going with another man to a second address, where he continued drinking. People at the address falsely claimed he had been sick and demanded £5,000 for cleaning up and other expenses, according to this account.

The source close to Menzies told the Times he paid the money because he was afraid of what would happen if he refused, but had insufficient funds in his own savings. They claimed he offered to repay the sum, but that local Tories who controlled the campaign funds said he did not need to.

The Times also reported that Menzies phoned his then campaign manager four years ago asking her to give him £3,000 from campaign funds to cover medical bills and promising to repay the money later.

According to the paper, £14,000 in funds given by Conservative party donors for campaign activities was transferred to Menzies’ personal bank accounts and used for private medical expenses over the years.

In a statement, 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.”

Shapps told Times Radio the matter needed to be “properly investigated” and that “there is potentially somebody who’s quite troubled in the mix here”.

A spokesperson for the chief whip, Simon Hart, said on Wednesday night: “Following a call with the chief whip, Mark Menzies has agreed to relinquish the Conservative whip, pending the outcome of an investigation.”

A Tory party spokesperson 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.”

The Liberal Democrats 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.

A decade ago, Menzies quit as a ministerial aide after allegations about his behaviour by a Brazilian male escort.


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