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Labour calls for police probe into claims MP Mark Menzies misused campaign funds

18 Apr 2024 5 minute read
Mark Menzies MP. Photo Richard Townshend, CC BY 3.0

Police should investigate allegations an MP misused campaign funds, Labour has said.

Fylde MP Mark Menzies lost the Conservative whip after The Times published claims he had used political donations to cover medical expenses and pay off “bad people” who had locked him in a flat and demanded thousands of pounds for his release.

Mr Menzies disputes the allegations, and the Conservative Party has said it is looking into the claims and takes them seriously.

In the Commons on Thursday, shadow leader of the house Lucy Powell said the “extraordinary” allegations raised “very serious questions” and warranted a police investigation.

Cover-up

Ms Powell also questioned the handling of the claims by the Conservative Party, alleging there was “a worrying pattern here of cover-up and inaction” in reference to reports the party had been aware of the allegations for more than three months.

Referring to recent revelations regarding a “honeytrap” scandal in Westminster, she added: “It seems that yet again, like with the Member for Hazel Grove (William Wragg) and so many other recent cases of sleaze and scandal, they’re too weak to act decisively and instead choose to brush things under the carpet.”

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt declined to comment on the specific case, but said the cases raised by Ms Powell were “very serious matters”.

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds has also written to her Conservative counterpart, Richard Holden, to say the allegations raise “extremely serious questions relating to potential criminality” and asking questions about police involvement.

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

‘Life-and-death’

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.”

Confidential

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.”

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.

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.

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


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Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Yeah but Angela Rayner… grrrrr

So, this MP, timing very interesting if they knew about this whilst attacking Rayner (Beth Rigby interview with James Daly where he avoided answering questions on what he wrote to the police to investigate is interesting).

But Wragg eh? a security riak (and part of a Conservative group that does not like what the National Trust is doing), move along, nothing to see.

Bamford’s flying under the Tory radar (Tory Donors having tax issues, possibly on the hook for 500 mil),

but deputy Labour leader, grrrr.

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