Express & Star

Labour calls for police probe into claims MP Mark Menzies misused campaign funds

The Fylde MP is alleged to have used donor funds to cover medical expenses and pay off ‘bad people’ holding him hostage.

Last updated
Mark Menzies allegations

Police should investigate allegations an MP misused campaign funds, Labour has said.

Fylde MP Mark Menzies lost the Conservative whip and was suspended as one of Rishi Sunak’s trade envoys after The Times published claims that 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 Conservative Party has said it is looking into the claims and takes them seriously.

The MP’s former campaign manager has reportedly said she was deeply “distressed”, after he called her late at night asking for the money.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for police involvement, telling broadcasters on Thursday: “There are obviously a lot of unanswered questions in relation to these allegations, not least why it seems the Conservative Party took so long to act and whether they’ve reported this to the police, who, it seems to me, should be involved in this.”

He said the fact that “yet again we’re talking about misbehaviour by Tory MPs” is “evidence” of the need for a “fresh start with Labour”.

In the Commons, shadow leader of the House Lucy Powell said the “extraordinary” allegations raise “very serious questions” and warrant a police investigation.

Ms Powell also questioned the handling of the claims by the Tories, alleging there is “a worrying pattern here of cover-up and inaction”, in reference to reports that the party had been aware of the allegations for more than three months.

Referring to recent revelations regarding a “honeytrap” scandal in Westminster, she added: “It seems that, yet again, like with the Member for Hazel Grove (William Wragg) and so many other recent cases of sleaze and scandal, they’re too weak to act decisively and instead choose to brush things under the carpet.”

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt declined to comment on the specific case, but said the cases raised by Ms Powell are “very serious matters”.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds has also written to her Conservative counterpart, Richard Holden, to say the allegations raise “extremely serious questions relating to potential criminality” and asking questions about police involvement.

According to The Times, £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.

The MP is also said to have called his 78-year-old former campaign manager 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.

According to a source close to Mr Menzies, the MP had met a man on an online dating website and gone to the man’s flat, before subsequently going with another man to a second address where he continued drinking. It was falsely claimed 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 Mr 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 where Mr Menzies is said to have used money from the campaign fund 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 that the former campaign manager had been the one who suggested Mr 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 Mr Menzies from the account in November, it is alleged.

According to Mail Online, Katie Fieldhouse, a former lady mayoress of Fylde, was the campaign manager who received the late night call from Mr Menzies.

“I’m a devout Christian and a very devout Conservative and this has distressed me deeply,” she told the Mail.

Ms Fieldhouse told the newspaper she reported her concerns to the Conservative chief whip Simon Hart on January 3, and had been contacted by party officials a couple of times since then.

“My main concern in all this is for the people of Fylde. It’s very, very sad,” she added.

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.

Mr Sunak’s spokesman declined to comment on the specific case, but said more generally: “The PM has always been clear that there’s no place for any inappropriate behaviour in Parliament and that MPs should be role models for the rest of society.”

Speaking to Times Radio, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps suggested Mr Menzies is “potentially somebody who is quite troubled”.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said it is “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.

Mr Shapps said “new information” had come to light on Wednesday, prompting a conversation between the Chief Whip and Mr Menzies which resulted in the MP giving up the Tory whip.

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

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.