Scandal-hit Tory MP Mark Menzies quits party and will stand down at next election

21 April 2024, 15:44 | Updated: 21 April 2024, 19:14

Mark Menzies MP has quit the Conservatives and will not stand at this year's general election.
Mark Menzies MP has quit the Conservatives and will not stand at this year's general election. Picture: Alamy/UK Parliament

By Chay Quinn

Mark Menzies MP has quit the Conservatives and will not stand at this year's general election.

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Mr Menzies has quit the party after allegations that he misused party donations to pay off "bad people" after a frantic call to a local campaigner.

In a statement, the MP for Fylde said: "It has been an enormous privilege representing the people of Fylde since 2010, but due to the pressures on myself and my elderly mother, I have decided to resign from the Conservative Party and will not stand at the forthcoming general election.

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"This has been a very difficult week for me and I request that my family's privacy is respected."

Mr Menzies has quit the party after allegations that he misused party donations to pay off "bad people" after a frantic call to a local campaigner.
Mr Menzies has quit the party after allegations that he misused party donations to pay off "bad people" after a frantic call to a local campaigner. Picture: UK Parliament

Mr Menzies lost the Conservative whip and was suspended as one of Rishi Sunak's trade envoys last week 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.

The police said they are reviewing claims that Mr Menzies misused campaign funds.

Lancashire Police are reviewing the available information" after receiving a letter "detailing concerns around this matter", the force said.

Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds is understood to have written to police calling for an investigation into the allegations.

He has disputed the allegations and the Tory party has said it is looking into the claims and takes them seriously.

Labour said the Tories "sat on their hands" for more than three months after finding out about the claims, while the Lib Dems called for the PM's independent adviser on ministers' interests to investigate the handling of the row.

With Tory MP Mark Menzies suspended, Ben Kentish wonders 'what is happening' with MPs in Westminster

Mr Menzies' former campaign manager who allegedly received a late-night phone call from him asking for cash has said she felt "let down" by the party after she raised concerns with Chief Whip Simon Hart.

Mr Menzies is said to have called 78-year-old Katie Fieldhouse 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.

A further £14,000 - given by donors for Tory campaign activities - was also allegedly transferred to Mr Menzies' personal bank accounts and used for private medical expenses.

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “The Conservative Party has now completed its investigation into whether there was a misuse of Conservative Party Funds.

“The money in question that was sent to Mark Menzies MP was signed off by the two signatories of Fylde Westminster Group. This body sits outside of the remit of both the Conservative Party and Fylde Conservative Association. Therefore we cannot conclude that there has been a misuse of Conservative Party funds.

“However, we do believe that there has been a pattern of behaviour that falls below the standards expected of MPs and individuals looking after donations to local campaign funds which lie outside the direct jurisdiction of the Conservative Party.

“We will therefore be commencing with retraining individuals across the Party on how to manage these accounts which fall outside of the remit of the Conservative Party and are introducing a Whistleblowing helpline.

“Furthermore, whilst outside of the initial scope of this investigation, there has also been a recommendation that the actions of the MP in question have also potentially breached the Nolan principals of public life.

"This is due to the nature of the allegations made, but also the repetitive nature of these separate allegations. These will be reviewed by the Conservative Party’s member governance team.

“We will of course share any information with the Police if they believe it would be helpful to any investigation they decide to undertake. Suggestions the Party has not been seriously examining this matter are demonstrably false as we have worked to protect the identities of all those involved whilst the facts could be established.”

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