Fylde MP Mark Menzies allegedly 'used Tory funds to escape from bad people', paper claims

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Fylde MP Mark Menzies is being investigated by his own party following claims he misused more than £20,000 in campaign funds - including to secure his release from “bad people” who had locked him up.

The Conservative politician - who has agreed to give up the Tory whip pending the outcome of the probe - faces allegations he made a middle-of-the-night call to an elderly female aide because he was being held captive by individuals demanding thousands of pounds to let him go.

Mr Menzies, 52, has strongly disputed the claims, which were reported by The Times late on Wednesday.   

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Long-serving Fylde MP Mark MenziesLong-serving Fylde MP Mark Menzies
Long-serving Fylde MP Mark Menzies

According to the newspaper, £6,500 given by donors for Tory campaign activities was used to win his freedom - while £14,000 had also previously been transferred to Mr Menzies' personal bank accounts and used for private medical expenses.

The MP has represented the Fylde constituency - which includes large parts of Preston's Ingol and Cottam and Lea and Larches wards - since 2010.

He is said to have called his 78-year-old former campaign manager at 3.15am one morning in December, claiming he had “got in with some bad people”, been locked in a flat - and needed £5,000 as a matter of "life and death".

The sum, which ultimately increased by a further £1,500, 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.

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The Times reports that a source close to Mr. Menzies said the parliamentarian had offered to repay the money, but claimed local Tories controlling the account said he did not need to.

The source said Mr Menzies had met a man on an online dating website and gone to the individual's flat, before subsequently going with another man to a second address where he continued drinking. He was sick at one point and several people at the address demanded £5,000, claiming it was for cleaning up and other expenses.

It is claimed 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 on which Mr Menzies is alleged to have used money from the campaign fund to cover his personal expenses.

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In 2020, he allegedly sought £3,000 for medical bills, but 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 said the former campaign manager had been the one who suggested Mr Menzies use funds from the business account to pay for his personal medical expenses - but she is understood to deny that.

A further £7,000 was received by Mr Menzies from the account in November, it is alleged.

In a statement to The Times, Mr Menzies - who is one of Rishi Sunak's trade envoys - 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."

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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."

Mr Menzies will now sit as an independent MP in the Commons until the Conservative Party investigation is complete.

The Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Fylde at the next election, Mark Jewell, condemned the fact that the Tories had reportedly known about the allegations for three months.

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Of the claims themselves, he said:  "Why does this not surprise me? Having previously quit as a ministerial aide and now having the whip withdrawn, it is clear that Mark Menzies is not fit to represent the people of Fylde." A decade ago Mr Menzies quit as a ministerial aide following allegations about his behaviour made by a Brazilian male escort.

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