Tory Party’s response to allegations against MP Mark Menzies criticised

Fylde MP Mark 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.

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

The MP’s former campaign manager who allegedly received a late-night phone call from him asking for £5,000 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.

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

Ms Fieldhouse said she became frustrated with the way the Conservative Party handled her complaint after she reported her concerns to Mr Hart in January.

“I put my faith completely in the party … nothing happened – I heard nothing … I am appalled,” she told the BBC.

“I work myself into the ground for the party – all they hear is a 78-year-old little old lady.

“The party has let me down.”

The Liberal Democrats have urged the Prime Minister’s independent adviser on ethics Sir Laurie Magnus to launch an investigation into whether Mr Hart broke the ministerial code by failing to act earlier.

Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “By failing to take any action or alerting the appropriate authorities, Simon Hart appears to have knowingly left in place an MP who, on the basis of the allegations, would have been vulnerable to blackmail and coercion.

“It’s completely shocking that the Conservative Party sat on their hands on this scandal for more than three months. It is now only right that Hart is investigated for potentially breaching the ministerial code.

“This scandal is yet another insult to the British public and shows why this Conservative government needs to be kicked out of office.”

Labour has said the allegations against Mr Menzies warrant a police investigation.

Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds has written to Lancashire Police calling on the force to look into the claims.

Lancashire Police said no complaint has been made but that the force will “make contact with those impacted in due course to see whether they wish to make a complaint”.

Cabinet minister Mel Stride denied claims the Conservative Party is resisting going to the police over the matter.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

He told Times Radio: “I’m not aware that they are.

“I’m not obviously connected to all the ins and outs of this situation. What I do know for sure is that the party has removed the whip from Mark Menzies and is investigating this situation, and that will be done in a very thorough manner.”

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 will now sit as an Independent MP.

Downing Street said he has been suspended from his unpaid role as the Prime Minister’s trade envoy for Colombia, Chile, Peru and Argentina.

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