Mishal Husain Skewers Minister Over Party's 'Slow' Response To Tory Sleaze

The Today programme host asked why "no action was taken" earlier over the Mark Menzies allegations.
Mishal Husain and Mel Stride
Mishal Husain and Mel Stride
BBC Radio 4 Today/Getty

BBC presenter Mishal Husain called out a senior minister over the Conservative Party’s “slow” response to the allegations against Mark Menzies this morning.

The MP agreed to relinquish the party whip earlier this week, following a report from The Times that Menzies used Tory campaign funds to pay “bad people”.

Menzies denies all allegations against him.

The Conservative Party says it is now conducting an investigation into the issue, while Labour have reported it to the police.

The Times also claimed the party knew about the claims for three months before it reached the media – but took no action.

Speaking to work and pensions secretary Mel Stride, Husain said: “Can you explain about your party’s handling of the allegations against Mark Menzies MP?”

The presenter pointed out that an activist, Katie Fieldhouse, claims she spoke to the party about the incidents months ago – but the whip was not removed from the MP until The Times story came out yesterday.

“Why was no action taken against him, to suspend him, to remove the whip, until the story emerged in The Times?” Husain asked.

“The conversations between him and this lady in his constituency happened back in December.

“She then went to the chief whip directly, spoke to him, apparently an investigation started, but he [Menzies] continued as a Conservative MP.”

Stride said: “As I said, I just wasn’t privy to those conversations.”

Husain pushed: “Yes I understand that and I’m sure you’re asking yourself those questions aren’t you – it’s a long time, it would appear it was around the beginning of the year this came to the attention of the chief whip – and Mark Menzies continued as an MP.”

Stride said he was not aware of what conversations took place, but said a “very thorough investigation” was ongoing.

The Today programme presenter persisted: “It’s important isn’t it, because the prime minster put himself forward as a figure of accountability and integrity, and yet it seems at the very least the party has been slow on this.”

“Well, as I say, I am not familiar with conversations that may or may not have occurred or certainly the contents of them back earlier on this year,” Stride insisted, saying he had “absolute confidence” that it would be fully investigated.

“We will get to the bottom of what may or may not have occurred,” Stride concluded.

Elsewhere, PM Rishi Sunak also dodged questions about Menzies during a press conference.

When asked if Menzies should quit as an MP, he said: “He has resigned the Conservative whip, he has been suspended from his position as a trade envoy while those investigations into the allegations continue.

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

Pressed by another reporter about why the government took so long to take action against Menzies, he used the same side-stepping response: “There’s an ongoing investigation, so I can’t really comment while that’s ongoing.”


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