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Aidan Burley MP has 'not spoken' with district Tory leader in nearly four months

Staffordshire | News | Published:

A Tory MP standing down at the next election following the controversy over a Nazi-themed fancy dress party has not spoken with the leader of his local party since February, it has been claimed.

Aidan Burley announced on February 5 that he would not seek re-election as MP for Cannock Chase.

But the leader of the Conservative group on Cannock Chase Council, Councillor Paul Snape, has nowclaimed the pair have not spoken since February 3, despite the Tories having given Mr Burley their full backing.

Conservative leader Paul Snape

The row within the Conservative group has come to a head after Mr Burley's fiancee, Councillor Jodie Jones, resigned from the party.

Her resignation plunged the Tories into third place on Cannock Chase Council meaning the official opposition will now be UKIP following gains in last week's local elections.

Councillor Snape said: "February 3 was the last time I spoke to Aidan Burley.

"He promised to work with us on the campaign. Then he resigned two days later.

"We had no warning and we've not spoken since.

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"All's going well now. We are disappointed over the election results but we are moving on and are starting the selection procedure for a new candidate in June.

"We fought a good campaign but UKIP obviously appealed to the electorate."

Neither Miss Jones nor Mr Burley, who got engaged last year, responded to requests for comment. Mr Burley has not said anything on Twitter since re-tweeting messages from David Cameron urging people to vote Tory last Thursday.

Councillor Jones was said to have been distressed after reports in a national newspaper in February dragged up photographs from her student days at parties.

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The Mail on Sunday welcomed Mr Burley's announcement of his resignation after he was revealed to have admitted to a Conservative party investigation that he purchased a Nazi uniform for a friend to wear on a stag party in the French ski resort of Val Thorens in 2011.

It was more than two years before the full account was revealed because the groom, Mark Fournier was investigated and prosecuted by authorities in France, where wearing a Nazi uniform is illegal. He was fined £1,250 by a French court.

At the time, Councillor Snape revealed the MP had his group's full backing.

He said in a statement in January: "We've never doubted Aidan's version of events and fully stand behind him as our MP and candidate for the next general election. We look forward to supporting his campaign over the coming months and will continue to work with him to secure the future of Cannock Hospital, the electrification of the Chase Line and to bring jobs and growth back to our area. He has done more good for Cannock in three years than Labour managed in nearly twenty."

But a week later would be the last time they would speak.

Miss Jones had previously been chairman of the Cannock Chase Conservative Association but resigned the position before her party met to discuss the furore around Mr Burley.

However the association's website still carries Miss Jones' name at the bottom as the person 'promoting' it.

She became the district's youngest ever councillor at 23 when she was elected to represent Rawnsley in 2011.

After Thursday's election the Tories and UKIP had six councillors each. But following Miss Jones's resignation the Tories only have five, while the Lib Dems have three and there are two independents.

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