Police reviewing allegations against suspended Tory MP accused of pay-off to ‘bad people’

Police say they are “reviewing” a plea to investigate claims against Conservative MP Mark Menzies, who is accused of misusing party campaign funds.

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds has written to Mr Menzies’s local force, Lancashire Police, calling on them to look into allegations that he used political donations to cover medical expenses and pay off “bad people” who had locked him in a flat, demanding thousands of pounds for his release.

The Times published claims that he rang his former campaign manager at 3.15am one day in December, saying he needed £5,000 as a matter of “life and death”.

Labour said the allegations warranted a police investigation (Mark Menzies MP/Facebook/iStock)
Labour said the allegations warranted a police investigation (Mark Menzies MP/Facebook/iStock)

The sum, which rose to £6,500, was eventually paid by his office manager from her personal bank account and was later reimbursed from funds raised from donors, it was alleged.

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

The MP for Fylde in Lancashire lost the Conservative whip and was suspended as one of Rishi Sunak’s trade envoys after the claims were made.

Tory party chiefs say they are looking into the allegations, which he disputes.

Labour has accused the Tories of “sitting on their hands” for more than three months after finding out about the claims, while the Liberal Democrats called for the independent adviser on ministers’ interests to investigate the Conservatives’ handling of the row.

A Lancashire Police spokesperson said on Friday evening: “We can confirm that we have now received a letter detailing concerns around this matter and we are in the process of reviewing the available information in more detail.”

Mr Menzies’s former campaign manager, Katie Fieldhouse, said she was appalled by the Conservative Party’s handling of the allegations.

She said she felt let down after she raised concerns with chief whip Simon Hart after she reported her concerns to him 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.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey stepped up his call for the prime minister’s independent adviser on ministers’ interests, Sir Laurie Magnus, to investigate the handling of the affair.

“It appears that the chief whip, Simon Hart, knew a lot about this and failed to take action, and if you look at the ministerial code, it requires him to do that,” he said.

“And so the Conservatives have really failed. And therefore, I think there is a role and job for the ethics adviser to investigate.”

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.”

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

Simon Hart is accused of failing to act when concerns were raised (PA Wire)
Simon Hart is accused of failing to act when concerns were raised (PA Wire)

Prime minister Rishi Sunak declined to say whether Mr Menzies should quit as Fylde MP, saying: “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.”

Mr Menzies told The Times: “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 Tory spokesperson said: “The party takes all allegations seriously and will always investigate any matters put to them.”

A spokespersonn for 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.