'Tour guide' Tory MP escapes censure by constituency party

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The Tory MP Jonathan Sayeed has staved off a vote of no confidence from his constituency party following allegations that he profited from guided visitor tours around Parliament.

The Tory MP Jonathan Sayeed has staved off a vote of no confidence from his constituency party following allegations that he profited from guided visitor tours around Parliament.

At a meeting of members of the Mid-Bedfordshire Conservative Party in Flitwick last night, Mr Sayeed won a vote of confidence by 173 votes to 126.

Mr Sayeed was suspended from the Commons for two weeks earlier this month and had the Tory party whip withdrawn for a month because of the allegations made in a Sunday newspaper.

He had always denied profiting from the tours run by the company, the English Manner, that the MP had set up with a constituency assistant, Alexandra Messervy.

Emerging triumphantly from the packed constituency meeting last night, Mr Sayeed urged party members to put their differences behind them and to work together with the aim of winning the upcoming general election.

With the vote results already written on the back of his hand, Mr Sayeed said: "I am deeply grateful to the association for trusting me with the considerable responsibility of being their member of Parliament."

Despite securing 173 of the 299 votes, Mr Sayeed said that the ballot had backed him, with only 20 per cent of the constituency's members voting against him.

He added: "What has happened over the past few weeks caused a considerable degree of dissention. It is behind us now, that is the end of it, we are going to get on and win the election and that is our job. There is something much more important and that's winning the election."

Mr Sayeed said that he will go on representing his constituents and defended his reputation. "He [the watchdog] found that what it [the Sunday newspaper article] said was not true but that I had been, at the worst, negligent and, at the least, careless," he said.

One constituency party member, Geoffrey Beckwith, 80, said: "I think the membership was strongly against the motion. Mr Sayeed has behaved impeccably. This is just a storm in a teacup. I think the chairman of the party might now have to look to his own position."

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