Laetitia, a political debutante with a difference

The expenses row engulfing Tory MP Bill Cash threatens to derail the ambitions of one of his party's most ambitious youngsters – the Eurosceptic MP's absorbing daughter, Laetitia.

Ms Cash fought the safe Labour seat of Salford in 2005, coming third behind the Communities Secretary Hazel Blears. Her solid performance earned her admirers in Tory central office and a place on David Cameron's "A-list" of preferred candidates. Of the remaining 200 or so seats awaiting a Tory candidate for the next election, she was expecting to be given the chance to fight a relatively safe one.

Ms Cash met Lady Thatcher when she was 12 (she spilt a fizzy drink on the former prime minister's sofa), but her involvement in the expenses saga could end her political career before it has really started. Local Conservative associations, tasked with selecting a candidate to fight in each constituency, will regard this week's revelations nervously.

The 37-year-old married financier Johnny Gunn on the French Riviera in November 2005 in a ceremony attended by 200 guests, including her former flatmate Jemima Khan and her boyfriend at the time, Hugh Grant.

Ms Cash, who is godmother to one of Ms Khan's sons, already had a daughter from her first marriage to lawyer Alex Goulandris, a member of the billionaire Greek shipping family. A former debutante of the year, she took a degree in fashion journalism at Central Saint Martins and worked at the short-lived fashion magazine Frank before moving to New York for two years to work for the Council on Foreign Relations. She completed a law degree at St Hilda's College, Oxford, as a mature student, and then became a Tory councillor in Shropshire. She and Mr Gunn have a daughter and a house in the South of France. Five years ago she was ranked at number 70 in a list of the "most invitable guests" by society magazine Tatler.

Laetitia Cash's brother Sam has also been inadvertently embroiled in the controversy over his father's living arrangements – he was staying rent-free in his father's flat in Pimlico while Mr Cash paid Laetitia from the public purse to stay in her flat in Notting Hill.

Sam, 37, is a television producer whose colleagues include the Labour MP-turned-broadcaster Brian Walden. He has led the life of a church mouse compared with his siblings. His brother William, the eldest of Bill Cash's three children, married and then divorced the Italian jewellery heiress Ilaria Bulgari and is now married (but separated) from the Venezuelan Vanessa Neumann – dubbed the "Cracker from Caracas" after a fling with Mick Jagger. In 1994 William infamously declared in an article for The Spectator that Hollywood was in thrall to a Jewish mafia. A lively bunch.

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