A FURIOUS row blew up after a North-East MP claimed he had been banned from a key business event - on the orders of a political rival.
Ian Swales (Lib Dem; Redcar) lashed out at Phil Wilson (Lab; Sedgefield) over the guest list for a conference at the North East Technology Park (NETPark) - in Sedgefield, County Durham - on Friday (November 16). Mr Swales alleged his invitation to speak was suddenly withdrawn, because Mr Wilson had refused to share the platform with him - branding the Labour MP "pathetic".
He added: "It's ludicrous not to embrace people who are elected - of whatever party - rather than engage in this sort of political tribalism."
But Mr Wilson hit back, insisting he had merely pointed out there was insufficient time for Mr Swales to speak - not least because Fiona Hall, a Lib Dem Euro-MP, is taking part.
He said: "That proves I am not being party political. Mr Swales is more than welcome to attend this event, if he wishes.
"However, I would have thought he had better things to than to be petty about an event in my constituency, which I have been involved in organising for a year."
The clash came just two days before 40 people are due to gather for the event, co-sponsored by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and the 'parliamentary outreach service', which promotes the work of parliament.
It is first in a series of IOP 'business briefings' across the North-East, to provide information on the way MPs bang the drum for region's science industries - and scrutinise the work of government.
As well as Mr Wilson and Ms Hall, the speakers will include leading figures from the IOP, the department for business (BIS) and Commons science and technology select committee.
A spokesman at the IOP acknowledged it had contacted Mr Swales to tell him it no longer wished him to speak at tomorrow's event.
He added: "We did so because an MP objected that the programme for the day had been set and he did not want it to be shifted around."
NETPark It boasts the Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC), as well as developing advanced manufacturing technologies in energy, high value chemicals, carbon capture and pharmaceuticals.