Aitken's days as Tory MP are over, says Howard

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Indy Politics

Michael Howard, the Tory leader, drove a stake through Jonathan Aitken's hopes of a political resurrection yesterday.

The disgraced former Cabinet minister, who was jailed for perjury, wanted to stand as a candidate in the Thanet South seat he formerly held. But Mr Howard told the BBC: "Jonathan Aitken has very many admirable qualities but I am afraid his days as a Conservative Member of Parliament are over."

The Tory leader acted after Mr Aitken challenged Tory Central Office to openly oppose his return or end the "shabby tricks" aimed at blocking him. Mr Aitken said: "Who is going to decide whether this candidate deserves rehabilitation, deserves to get into the selection process, deserves to get a chance of being elected? Should it be the bureaucrats at Central Office, who are calling all kinds of blocking shots at the moment, or should it be the local democrats?"

Mr Aitken was angered by suggestions he had failed to meet the deadline for applications. "What I don't accept is the kind of misinformation that is being pumped out, quite wrongly, along the lines of 'he didn't get his application in on time'."