Police 'reviewing information' about ex-Tory MP Mark Menzies after alleged misuse of funds

Police say they are reviewing "information" about former Conservative MP Mark Menzies after Labour asked for an investigation into claims he misused party funds.

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds wrote to Lancashire Police asking for an inquiry after The Times reported he had made a late-night phone call to an aide asking for funds to pay off "bad people".

Mr Menzies told the paper he contests the allegations against him.

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In a statement, Lancashire Police 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."

Mr Menzies lost the Conservative Party whip in Westminster following the reports on Wednesday evening, while the party investigates the claims.

Losing the whip means Mr Menzies is no longer a member of the Conservative parliamentary party and will sit as an independent MP, rather than a Tory MP, in the House of Commons.

A Conservative spokesperson said: "The party is conducting an investigation into the claims made and has been doing so for several months.

"We will of course share any information with the police if they believe it would be helpful to any investigation they decide to undertake. Suggestions the party has not been seriously examining this matter are demonstrably false."

In the letter to Lancashire Police, the Labour Party chair is understood to have said Tory chief whip, party whip's office, and headquarters may have information that could assist with an investigation.

The letter also argues there is a clear public interest in the matter being investigated by officers to ensure public confidence in politicians.

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Mel Stride, the government's work and pensions secretary, told Sky News this morning the matter was being "thoroughly investigated".

"Conservative HQ is looking now very closely into the circumstances around the various reports that have been made, and the whip has been removed from Mark Menzies in the meantime," he added.

Labour shadow minister Matthew Pennycook told Sky News: "There are a series of questions about whether an offence has been committed in relation to fraud by false representation or misconduct in public office.

"They're quite serious allegations. It's right that the police investigate."

Asked about the matter this morning, Rishi Sunak 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."

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Speaking to the Electoral Dysfunction podcast, Tory peer Ruth Davidson reckoned Mr Menzies would not last the week as a MP.

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."