Tory's affair details 'withheld at meeting'
Information about Elizabeth Truss's affair with a Tory MP was withheld from the selection meeting at which she was chosen as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for SW Norfolk.
Information about Elizabeth Truss's affair with a Tory MP was withheld from the selection meeting at which she was chosen as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for SW Norfolk, the EDP has learnt.
A standard 'Are there any skeletons in your cupboard?' question should have been put to all of the five candidates at the meeting in Swaffham on Saturday, but was not. Had Ms Truss been asked it in front of the association's members, she would have felt obliged to refer to the affair.
Virtually all of the 100 people at the meeting apparently had no knowledge of the affair in 2004-05 with the MP Mark Field, when Ms Truss was already married. Many of them were shocked and concluded they had been taken for fools, when a story about it appeared in the following day's Mail on Sunday.
The question that was blocked asks: Is there anything in your political, professional or personal life which could conceivably mean that you could attract adverse media publicity either now, in the run-up to the election, or subsequently?
The selection meeting was preceded by an association management team meeting, attended by about five people. The EDP has been told by more than one person then present that the association's acting chairman, Hugh Colver, was advised at that gathering that the question had to be put, and that he disagreed.
He told the EDP yesterday that he could not recall being given such advice. He would not have asked the question, he said, because it would have been “a waste of time”, as all the candidates would already have gone through a “rigorous” selection process and anything embarrassing would have come to light. He also understood, he added, that he did not have to ask the question under revised procedures.
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Mr Colver, who is a defence industry lobbyist and former head of information at the Ministry of Defence, presided over the selection meeting because the constituency association's chairman, David Hills, is away on holiday on a cruise off Hong Kong. The EDP was unable to contact Mr Hills yesterday, but friends say he is “apoplectic with rage”.
Representatives of Conservative HQ, which was in the know about Ms Truss's past, were at Saturday's selection meeting. Mr Colver, who worked at Conservative Central Office in 1995, has emphatically denied colluding with it to aid Ms Truss's selection by not asking the 'adverse publicity' question. “I was just waiting for someone to accuse me of that”, he said.
Support for a re-run of the selection meeting was said to be building in the local association yesterday. But that is expected to be strongly resisted by the party's national leadership, which has been exhibiting exasperation with the SW Norfolk activists.
Ms Truss returned to the constituency yesterday for a visit of “indefinite” duration in which she will to try to win over disaffected members of the association.