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


A Conservative MP has lost the party whip after an investigation was launched following claims that he misused campaign funds.

Mark Menzies, 52, also faced allegations that he made a late-night call to a 78-year-old aide asking for help because he had been locked up by “bad people” demanding thousands of pounds for his release.

The Fylde MP disputes the allegations reported by the Times, but the Conservative party is looking into the claims and taking them seriously. 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.”

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

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 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 Menzies, the MP had met a man on an online dating website and gone to the man’s flat, before going with another man to a second address where he continued drinking. 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 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 when Menzies is said to have used money from campaign funds 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 said the former campaign manager had been the one who suggested 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 Menzies from the account in November, it is alleged.

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 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.”

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.

“Rishi Sunak must suspend the whip for Mark Menzies immediately, while all the relevant authorities investigate the matter.”

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

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