Iain Duncan Smith has launched a stinging counter-attack on his Tory critics, accusing them of being more interested in ousting him than seeing the party prosper.
But the former head of his private office Vanessa Gearson said she would claim she was put under pressure to make a misleading statement to the anti-sleaze watchdog into allegations Mr Duncan Smith misused his parliamentary allowance to pay his wife, Betsy. Writing in The Spectator today, the Conservative leader says the "highly offensive and inaccurate slur on the integrity of myself and my wife" was the culmination of "determined and sustained attempts to undermine my position through a series of off-the-record briefings and smears".
Derek Conway, a former whip, warned that Mr Duncan Smith's treatment of his critics could "end in tears". He said: "Having principles is not the sole prerogative of the leader of the party."