Police to review Tory MP’s alleged misuse of funds after Labour complaint

Mark Menzies has lost the Conservative whip as the party investigates the claims
Mark Menzies has lost the Conservative whip as the party investigates the claims - Art Conaghan

Police have launched a review into whether a Tory MP misused campaign funds after receiving a complaint from the Labour Party.

Mark Menzies, the MP for Fylde, is alleged to have used £14,000 given by donors for campaigning activities to fund his private medical expenses.

He was also said to have phoned Katie Fieldhouse, his 78-year-old former campaign manager, at 3.15am one night last December to ask for money to pay “bad people” who had locked him up, claiming he needed £5,000 – which later rose to £6,500 – as a matter of “life and death”.

Mr Menzies, who has disputed the allegations, has lost the Conservative whip as the party investigates the claims.

On Friday, Lancashire Police confirmed that it had received a letter “detailing concerns around this matter”, and a police spokesman confirmed the letter was from Labour. The spokesman said: “We are in the process of reviewing the available information in more detail.”

The review comes as Mr Menzies faced calls from Conservative Party members in his constituency to step down as MP. ories in the Fylde constituency described his behaviour as “disappointing” and “concerning” and called on the party to “properly investigate” the claims.

‘Allegations are concerning’

One local Conservative activist, who has worked with Mr Menzies since he was elected in 2010, called on him to step down.

Asked by The Telegraph at her home in Lytham, near Blackpool, whether he should resign, the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “If it was me, I would. Ethics matter. The allegations are concerning, and they need to be properly investigated.”

Roger Small, a former chairman of the Fylde Conservative Association, said he felt sorry for Mr Menzies, adding: “I didn’t know anything about it until I read the newspapers. I was taken very much by surprise, like everyone else.

“I wasn’t expecting it. I was disappointed. He’s a good guy and I’d like him to stay as the MP. I’m sorry for him.”

Mr Small defended Shirley Green, the long-time constituency office manager for Mr Menzies, who is reported to have given him £6,500 of her own money before being reimbursed from supporter funds. He said: “She is straight. Straight and honest. If she’s done anything, she’s done it with the best of intentions.”

Ms Green was approached for comment.

A source close to Mr Menzies told The Times the MP met a man on an online dating website and went to his flat before going with another man to a second address and continuing drinking.

The source added it was falsely claimed that he was sick at one point and several people at the address demanded £5,000, which they asserted was to cover the cost of cleaning and other expenses.

Mr Menzies said in a statement: “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.”

‘Totally disappointing’

Ms Fieldhouse, the former Lady Mayoress of Mr Menzies’s constituency, has identified herself as the party aide who the MP allegedly called asking for money.

Speaking to The Telegraph on Thursday, she said: “I know Mr Menzies very well, but I found his behaviour totally disappointing. Would you like to be called at 3am? My sister answered the phone and said it was him, and I thought his mum had died. I couldn’t think why else he would ring at that time.

“My sister and I haven’t got a relative in the world. Who the hell rings you up at that time in the morning? I said ‘hello’ and he said ‘are you on your own’ and then told me everything, and I just couldn’t take it any more.

“I had the worst Christmas I have ever had. I have no idea what nefarious things he got up to. I’m an old lady and I don’t want to know things like that. But if he hadn’t done anything wrong, then he would have called 999, not me.”

Ms Fieldhouse claimed she spoke to Simon Hart, the chief whip on Jan 3 and accused the party of brushing the allegations “under the carpet”. She refused to speculate on whether Mr Menzies should stand down from the Fylde seat, which he has held for 14 years.

A spokesman for Mr Hart said Mr Menzies had “agreed to relinquish the Conservative whip, pending the outcome of an investigation”.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “The Conservative Party is investigating allegations made regarding a Member of Parliament. This process is rightfully confidential.”

Mr Menzies is the second Tory MP to surrender the whip in as many weeks after William Wragg, who represents Hazel Grove, quit the party after he admitted handing over colleagues’ phone numbers in the Westminster honeytrap scandal.