Express & Star

Aidan Burley: I did buy the Nazi uniform

Tory MP Aidan Burley today admitted he bought the Nazi uniform worn by a groom on his stag party – in a move even his own party condemned as 'stupid and offensive'.


The Cannock Chase MP apologised for his role in the controversial fancy dress stunt, as details of an internal Tory Party investigation were revealed late last night.

He was branded 'stupid and offensive' by his own party in an investigation into the incident – but was not deemed racist or anti-Semitic.

Mr Burley, who turns 35 today, was the best man to Mark Fournier at the party in the French ski resort of Val Thorens in December 2011.

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Mr Fournier was yesterday fined £1,200 because wearing a Nazi uniform is illegal in France. And the court in Albertville made him pay £800 to an organisation representing the families of Holocaust victims.

Mark Fournier in the uniform

Neither Mr Burley nor the 10 other guests who attended the party were prosecuted

The Conservative Party investigated Mr Burley's actions at the time but withheld the publication of the report, by Lord David Gold, until now so as not to interfere with the French authorities' investigations.

The report confirmed that 'as best man, Mr Burley purchased the costume alongside the flights and other costs associated with the trip on behalf of the other attendees.

Mr Burley argued strongly that the choice of costume was inspired by the British comic association with aspects of the war.

It said:?"The report concludes that Mr Burley's conduct caused deep offence and that he acted in an unacceptable and offensive way. Mr Burley is not a bad man, still less a racist or anti-Semite.

"However, his actions were stupid and offensive."

Mr Burley has also faced questions over a letter he wrote to the Jewish Chronicle, in which he appeared to distance himself from the Nazi theme.

In it, he said he wished he had left the party 'as soon as I realised what was happening'.

The party was caught on camera in a restaurant in the Alps. Some of the guests were said to have been chanting 'Hitler! Hitler!'.

Mr Burley was at that time a rising star in the Tory party after his election in 2010 with the biggest swing to the Conservatives anywhere in the country.

He today told the Express & Star that his apology in 2011 was not at odds with his admission to the Tory party that he had bought the uniform.

"I admitted it to the Conservative party," he said. "I was the best man and I had duties including booking the hotel and the flights. A number of people agreed on what the fancy dress should be and I was tasked with buying it.

"The point I was trying to make to the Jewish Chronicle was that there was unacceptable behaviour by some of the other guests in trying to do a toast to the ideology of the Third Reich.

"That's where I wish I had left sooner.

"I regret the incident and I hope now we can put it behind us. I apologised then and I apologise again now for my role in it. The Conservative investigation concluded two years ago when I received my punishment by losing my job."

Mr Burley lost his role as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the then Transport Secretary, Justine Greening.

Asked about how and why he bought the Nazi costume, Mr Burley said: "It was a group endeavour. There were a number of people involved in where the stag party should be and that was covered in the report.

"The outfit was bought legally in London by me as best man and I take responsibility for that. We did not know that wearing a fancy dress outfit would be illegal in France. It's not an offence in this country.

"It was done in the spirit of mocking the Nazis. There was no malicious intent, no ideological motive, no desire to offend people. And that was borne out by the investigation by the French authorities."

However, Dudley North Labour MP Ian Austin has demanded David Cameron remove the Tory whip from Mr Burley saying: "I don't think he should be a Conservative MP. This wasn't a student prank. This was bunch of guys in their 30s, one of them an MP, in France where people remember the Nazis wearing those uniforms for real."

Lord Gold said in his report that there was 'no political motivation whatsoever' for the choice of the theme. But he said his actions threw into question his judgment.

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