Police reviewing claims Tory MP Mark Menzies misused campaign funds to 'pay off bad people'

19 April 2024, 21:04

Mark Menzies
Mark Menzies. Picture: UK government

By Emma Soteriou

Police are reviewing claims Tory MP Mark Menzies misused campaign funds to 'pay off bad people'.

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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.

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

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.

Read more: Tory MP Mark Menzies loses whip as investigation launched into claims he misused campaign funds

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MP Mark Menzies loses Tory whip as party investigates claims he misused funds

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.

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "In the last 24 hours we have found out that the government was told months ago about this, and they seem to have sat on their hands.

"If they thought they could sweep this under the carpet somehow, they were obviously very mistaken and that is why I think there are very serious questions now that need to be answered.

"Not just by the individual but also by the government on this."

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak has refused to say whether Mr Menzies should quit as Fylde MP.

Speaking after his speech on Friday, he said: "It's right that Mark Menzies has resigned the Conservative whip.

"He's been suspended from his position as a trade envoy whilst the investigations into those allegations continue.

"For our part, I can't comment on our ongoing investigation while it's happening, and he's no longer a Conservative MP, as I said."

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."

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