UK Conservative lawmaker suspended over allegations of misusing funds

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's governing Conservative Party has suspended one of its lawmakers while he is investigated over allegations that he misused campaign funds, a spokesperson for the Conservatives' head of party discipline said on Thursday.

The Times newspaper reported that Mark Menzies had allegedly asked his former campaign manager for thousands of pounds to pay "bad people" who he said had detained him overnight in a flat and then used campaign funds to reimburse her.

The newspaper said the Conservative Party had been made aware of the allegations in January.

Menzies' office did not immediately respond to a request for comment but the Times quoted him as strongly disputing the allegations, saying he had "fully complied with all the rules for declarations".

"Following a call with the Chief Whip (the Conservative in charge of party discipline), Mark Menzies has agreed to relinquish the Conservative whip, pending the outcome of an investigation," the spokesperson said, referring to his suspension, which means he must sit in parliament for now as an independent lawmaker.

The allegations against Menzies are a fresh setback for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, whose party is lagging far behind the main opposition Labour Party in opinion polls ahead of a national election expected later this year.

Earlier this month, another Conservative lawmaker left the party after he admitted handing over the personal phone numbers of his colleagues to someone he had met on a dating app.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Gareth Jones)