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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Rachael Burford

Police 'reviewing letter' about Tory MP Mark Menzies after alleged misuse of funds

Lancashire Police has said it is “reviewing” a letter in relation to allegations against Fylde MP Mark Menzies, who is accused of misusing campaign funds.

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

In a statement on Friday evening, a Lancashire Police spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we have now received a letter detailing concerns around this matter and we are in the process of reviewing the available information in more detail.”

Earlier on Friday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told broadcasters the Conservative Party appear to have “sat on their hands” over the issue.

“In the last 24 hours we have found out that the Government was told months ago about this, and they seem to have sat on their hands,” he said.

“If they thought they could sweep this under the carpet somehow they were obviously very mistaken and that is why I think there are very serious questions now that need to be answered.

“Not just by the individual but also by the Government on this.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey stepped up his call for the Prime Minister’s independent adviser on ministers’ interests, Sir Laurie Magnus, to investigate the claims.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said it is “right” that Mr Menzies resigned the party whip amid allegations he misused campaign funds.

Asked by a reporter if he should quit as Fylde MP, the Prime Minister said: “It’s right that Mark Menzies has resigned the Conservative whip.

“He’s been suspended from his position as a trade envoy whilst the investigations into those allegations continue.

“For our part I can’t comment on our ongoing investigation while it’s happening, and he’s no longer a Conservative MP, as I said.”

An elderly Tory activist who was allegedly called by Mr Menzies demanding £5,000 to pay off some “bad people” said she is “appalled” by the way the party has responded to the scandal.

Katie Fieldhouse claims Mr Menzies rang her at 3.15am in the morning last December and said he needed the cash because he was in a “life or death” situation.

It is one of a number of allegations about the Flyde MP dating back to 2014, which were outlined in an investigation by the Times.

Mr Menzies was suspended by the Conservative party, and as a Trade Envoy to Colombia, this week after claims he misused party funds and abused his position.

He has "strongly" disputed the allegations.

From her home in St Anne's, Lancashire, Ms Fieldhouse said she received the early morning call from the MP in December last year.

The 78-year-old told the BBC: "He said: 'I've got in with some bad people and they've got me locked in a flat and they won't let me out until I pay them £5,000'.

"I said 'I beg your pardon'. He said 'it's life or death Katie, I need £5,000 from the account'."

Ms Fieldhouse told Mr Menzies she would not lend him the money, but it was allegedly paid by another local activist later that morning by which time the cost had reportedly increased to £6,500.

The life-long Tory said she had risen concerns with the party’s Chief Whip Simon Hart after further discussions about money involving Mr Menzies.

She said Mr Hart had listened to her story and but became frustrated with the way the Conservative Party dealt with the complaint.

"I put my faith completely in the party... nothing happened - I heard nothing... I am appalled,” she added.

"The party has been part of my life, I've run every election campaign here for 40 years.

"I am not having this brushed under the carpet."

It comes as Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride on Friday denied claims the Conservative Party is resisting going to the police over allegations Mr Menzies misused campaign funds.He told Times Radio: "I'm not obviously connected to all the ins and outs of this situation.

“What I do know for sure is that the party has removed the whip from Mark Menzies and is investigating this situation and that will be done in a very thorough manner."

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