'Sex cheat' MP wins his local battle to remain a Conservative candidate

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Indy Politics

James Gray, the MP accused of being a "love cheat" survived an attempt to end his political career yesterday, when Tories in North Wiltshire voted to let him stand as their candidate in another election.

A delighted Mr Gray promised to "hold no grudges" against party members who had tried to unseat him after he left his cancer-stricken wife for another woman. But there is still the risk that he will be challenged by an independent, backed by the jilted husband of his new lover.

In a statement after he had won the vote, Mr Gray admitted: "There can be no denying that recent weeks have been turbulent, and I am of course very sorry there are a group of people - I think a fairly small group - who were not able to support me in the ballot. I think that they may come to regret some of the language and tactics they have used in what has become rather a bitter campaign."

Mr Gray's future has been hanging by a thread since November, when his constituency party's executive decided not to reselect him because he had left his wife, Sarah, for Philippa Mayo, campaigns officer for the Countryside Alliance, a married mother of three.

Tory whips said privately that Mr Gray's behaviour led to more complaints than the revelation last October that another Tory MP, Gregory Barker, had left his wife to enter into a relationship with a man.

Three members of Mr Gray's local party, who said they were speaking on behalf of numerous others, wrote a letter earlier this month calling for his deselection. But Mr Gray had heavyweight backing from the former Tory leader, Michael Howard, the Chief Whip, Patrick McLoughlin, and others.