On Thursday, November 9th, I made the following statement to the Executive of the Dover and Deal Conservative Association:
I want to start by saying that I wish we were not meeting under these circumstances.
The job of the Member of Parliament is not about the Member of Parliament. It is about what you do, the team you build and what you achieve for the people you serve.
We have come a long way together over the past 10 years. We have achieved much and we should be proud of the change we have made in this community.
Let's remember how things were back in 2010. Our port was about to be sold off. Dover's hospital had been decimated for a decade – services withdrawn and wards axed one by one. Deal's hospital was left teetering on the edge. Deal itself was called a "village" by the Government, unfit for the fast train. Unemployment had rocketed and things looked bleak.
Fast forward to today and there is a brand new hospital in Dover. Deal hospital has been safeguarded. We are now working tirelessly to get more services in both hospitals – to save people long and expensive journeys to hospitals far away. We stopped the port sell off and it is now not just forever England – it has been reformed to bring it closer to the community. The fast train now sweeps into Deal all day, every day and Deal is a town transformed. In Dover Burlington House is gone and a new shopping complex rises in the heart of the town. Unemployment has halved. Ours is a community on the up.
Just this week hundreds of letters have gone out to constituents. Whether it's fighting their corner on issues such as housing, health or getting a decent bus service – this work goes on, and will continue to do so. I am still holding surgeries, doing everything I can to help people. It's business as usual.
I say this because sometimes I need to remind myself as well as our team why we do it and why it's all worth it. And I want to thank you, the entire Conservative family and the many well wishers who are not Conservative supporters who have got in touch in the past week.
So what then is my explanation for what I am accused of? I cannot give one. Because I do not know what I am accused of. I received a call from a journalist just after 9pm on Friday evening saying he had heard I was having the whip withdrawn in time for the 10 O'Clock news and asked me what was going on. I said I had absolutely no idea. Minutes later I received a call from the Chief Whip telling me that serious allegations had been made against me earlier that week and that these had been passed to the Police. I asked what the allegations were and he would not tell me. He only said that he and the Prime Minister had decided the whip should be suspended from me. As we spoke, the news spread across the national media.
And that is all I can tell you. Since then I have had no further information. And here we are.
So extraordinary as it may seem I am no wiser now than I was on Friday evening when the Chief Whip called me.
But let me say some things about the way our Party has handled this. First, I want to echo what the Labour MP Chris Bryant has said. "If this fortnight teaches anything it is there must be a fair proper process for those who feel they have been harassed or abused AND fair due process for those facing allegations."
I think that's spot-on. The fact is that this whole area of reporting misconduct and managing allegations of misconduct is a mess. I have every sympathy with people who have been harassed or victimised and feel they have nowhere to turn. That is a denial of justice.
It is also a denial of justice when people who have had allegations made against them, lose their job or their party whip without knowing what those allegations are. I believe this is fundamentally wrong. Wrong because it's an injustice to those who stand accused. But also wrong because it undermines our values as a country.
We believe in the rule of law – that everyone, be they so very high or so very low, should be equal before the law. We believe in the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise. We believe in natural justice.
So, I ask you: was it in line with our values as a country that the media were told of allegations made against me last week before I was? Was it in line with our values that the presumption of innocence was undermined by the whip being suspended? Was it in line with our values to cause prejudice and harm the chances of my getting a fair hearing?
Finally let me say that whatever it turns out I stand accused of, I deny any criminal wrongdoing. I have always done my best to work hard for our community – and will continue to do so. I have always put all my energy into fighting for the people of Dover and Deal – and will continue to do so. For me, the interests of the people of Dover & Deal will always come first.
Here you can read about local news matters and what I've been up to. You can make comments too. I'd welcome your feedback, so please do feel free to comment!