Suspended Tory MP accused of misusing campaign funds to pay ‘bad people’

LONDON — Britain’s Conservatives suspended an MP over claims he requested campaign funds to pay off “bad people.”

The Times reported that Mark Menzies called an elderly local party volunteer at 3.15 a.m. in December last year saying he was locked in a flat and needed £5,000 as a matter of “life and death.” According to the paper, an eventual sum of £6,500 was paid to secure his release.

The Conservatives were aware of the allegations for more than three months and only suspended Menzies after the story broke Wednesday evening.

In a statement to the Times, 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 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.”

Menzies has had the Conservative whip removed. The MP has represented the safe Conservative Lancashire seat of Fylde since 2010. In 2019, he won a majority of more than 16,000.

More than a dozen Tory MPs have lost the whip since the 2019 general election, reducing the government’s working majority to 49.

Questioned about the claims on Thursday morning, Defense Secretary Grant Shapps told LBC: “What I understand is that some further information came to light yesterday, that’s a conversation between the chief whip and the individual MP concerned.”

“In every walk of life, there will be people who go off the tracks,” Shapps told Radio 4 in a separate interview. “It sounds to me that there is potentially somebody who’s quite troubled in the mix here,” he said to Times Radio.