Lib Dems apologise to MP over leaflet

MP Andrew Jones
MP Andrew Jones

Harrogate and Knaresborough Liberal Democrats have apologised to Harrogate’s Conservative MP Andrew Jones after criticising the politician’s expenses claims in a recent leaflet.

In a letter which Mr Jones has just republished on his Twitter account, constituency chairman of Harrogate and Knaresborough Lib Dems, John Fox wrote: “Any reference to an ‘expenses scandal’ involving Mr Jones was fundamentally wrong.”

The distribution of the Lib Dem leaflets, which began in November 2013 was stopped, and undelivered leaflets were returned to Mr Jones’s office.

Mr Jones said: “One expects a bit of rough and tumble in politics.

“However, it has become clear over the last few months the natural rough and tumble has been pushed aside for a type of campaigning which I don’t think is constructive or appropriate.

“The final straw came with a series of claims in a Liberal Democrat publication introducing their new Parliamentary candidate.

“This publication made claims about my professional life that are entirely untrue, very damaging to me and hurtful to my family.”

He added: “I work very well with the Liberal Democrats in Government. It is a constructive and positive relationship even where we disagree.

“With that in mind, it is difficult to see how their local counterparts can behave in such a way.”

Mr Fox said the issue related to an article in their November leaflet.

He said the article headline included words they had acknowledged ‘were not appropriate.’

“We have apologised to the MP and agreed a contribution to a local charity and his legal costs.”

The Harrogate and Knaresborough Lib Dems agreed to make a £500 donation to the Mayor of Harrogate’s Charities on Mr Jones’ behalf and pay an additional £500 towards his legal fees.

Mr Jones said: “At least good causes will benefit from this sorry episode as I have donated my damages to the Mayor of Harrogate’s charities.

“This whole affair has been an unwelcome distraction from the job at hand which is representing my constituents to the best of my abilities and helping individuals and families sort out difficult and complex problems. I hope that this extreme attack-style political campaigning isn’t brought to our area again.