"Sleaze" complaint against Sedgefield MP, Phil Wilson, collapses (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Complaint was "cooked up" by Tories, claim
A “SLEAZE” complaint against a North-East MP has collapsed amid evidence of Conservative dirty tricks.
A Tory backbencher admitted the complaint was cooked up for him by Conservative headquarters and refused to submit it to parliament’s watchdog.
John Glen, the Salisbury MP, also apologised personally to the MP concerned, Sedgefield’s Phil Wilson – apparently agreeing there was no case to answer.
Now senior Conservatives have admitted they are nervous that a key investor – Hitachi, which is building a train-assembly factory in County Durham – has been offended, after being dragged into the row.
The extraordinary twists come one month after Mr Wilson was accused of failing to properly declare two donations, before speaking about the Hitachi project in a Commons debate.
A political website reported that Mr Glen had written to the parliamentary commissioner for standards for a “potential breach of the code of conduct for MPs”.
The letter pointed out that Mr Wilson had registered £5,700 donations from both Hitachi and Merchant Place Developments, which owns the Newton Aycliffe factory site.
Yet, after Mr Wilson spoke about the project in a debate, it protested that: “At no time did he draw attention to his entry in the register of members' financial interests.”
If the Commissioner had found against the Sedgefield MP, he could have faced an investigation by MPs on the all-party committee on standards and privileges.
But The Northern Echo can reveal that no complaint was submitted, after Mr Glen admitted it was written for him, by Tory officials.
Furthermore, the backbencher, in issuing his apology, told Mr Wilson he had not even seen the contents of the letter before it appeared – in his name – on the website.
The Northern Echo attempted to speak to Mr Glen about his apology, but he declined to return its call personally.
Asked repeatedly, a spokeswoman did not deny the letter was written for Mr Glen, saying only: “He did not send the letter to the Commissioner. The matter is now closed, as far as he is concerned.”
A spokeswoman for the Commissioner, Kathryn Hudson, confirmed: “No complaint has been received against Mr Wilson.”
However, the Conservative Party insisted it did not write the letter for Mr Glen, saying: “We deny these allegations. Clearly it's a matter for John.”
Mr Wilson said one senior Tory had admitted to unease about the whole episode, given the importance of the Hitachi investment, creating at least 500 high-quality jobs in England's poorest region He said: “It’s disappointing that the Conservative Party has chosen to try to make political mischief over a major investment in the North-East.
“My priority is to work with Hitachi about making this another great business success story for the North-East.”