Lib Dem branch suspended in rules probe

A Liberal Democrat branch in a key marginal seat has been suspended while a probe into a "breach of the party's rules" is carried out, the party confirmed today.

The North West Leicestershire branch of the Liberal Democrats is now being run by the East Midlands regional party until further notice.

The seat was held by the Conservatives from its creation in 1983, then fell to David Taylor in the Labour landslide in 1997.

In the 2005 election Mr Taylor received 21,449 votes - just 4,477 ahead of Conservative rival Nicola Le Page.

Mr Taylor died unexpectedly of a heart attack on Boxing Day while out walking with his family.

The North-West Leicestershire seat is due to be fought at the upcoming general election by Conservative candidate Andrew Bridgen, Labour's Ross Willmott, Lib Dem Paul Reynolds, UKIP's Martin Green, and BNP candidate Ian Meller.

It has been reported the suspension of the Lib Dem branch has come as a result of infighting in the party, following an attempt to oust county and district councillor Michael Wyatt, but today the party's headquarters could not confirm any details.

A spokesman said: "No individual member has been suspended from the party and Councillor Michael Wyatt remains a member of the Liberal Democrats as a serving councillor.

"I can confirm the North West Leicestershire local party has been suspended, pending an internal investigation into a breach of the party's rules.

"The Liberal Democrats' regional party for the East Midlands will assume the management role for the local party until further notice.

"The PPC's campaign in NW Leicester will continue subject to the agreement of the regional party."