Leicestershire Conservatives have expelled their scandal-hit former leader amidst concerns ongoing investigations will act as a “distraction” in next year’s elections.
David Parsons’ position as a Conservative councillor on Blaby DC and membership of the national party has now been called into question after Leicestershire CC Tory whips concluded he had broken several party rules by failing to repay expenses and obstructing the ensuing investigation.
Cllr Parsons has already been subject to “strong censure” from the county council’s standards committee over delays to reimbursing the council in full for trips to EU meetings but an internal report by the council’s Conservative group warned there could be “further embarrassment” as new complaints were investigated.
The report said there were likely to be “further sanctions against DP and further unwarranted attention from the media and further embarrassment to the group” because of an ongoing police investigation as well as outstanding standards committee complaints relating to Cllr Parson’s use of the civil car for family weddings, sporting events and party political purposes.
The removal of Cllr Parsons from the group would prevent him “being a distraction to the Conservative group, especially in the run up to the county elections in 2013”, the report added in its recommendations to councillors.
Leicestershire’s new leader, Nick Rushton (Con), said the group had also taken decisive action because the new standards regime, which left standards committee’s with fewer sanctions for errant councillors, had left discipline in the hands of the party machine.
“This is not necessarily about David Parsons anymore, it is about principle,” he said. “The group needs to act as if he hasn’t resigned and show the public and the officer core how we deal with ourselves.
“We need to show the public they can trust politicians to deal with their dirty laundry.”
The party’s internal investigation concluded he had broken several rules, including failure to observe the highest standards in conduct, failure to observe the spirit of the code of conduct and failing to ensure conduct does not cause embarrassment to the group and party.
Cllr Parsons, who resigned on Tuesday just minutes after receiving a draft version of the report, was not present at Wednesday’s meeting where former colleagues unanimously voted to expel him from the group.
The report highlighted Cllr Parson’s “prolonged unwillingness” to settle expenses debts owed to East Midlands Council for trips to EU meetings and said he had been “generally obstructive to the investigatory process” once the debts were made public.
According to the internal report drawn up by group whips, Cllr Parsons had made at least one “untrue statement” relating to whether he had fully repaid East Midlands Council and also denied being made aware of a police investigation. “Clearly, this calls into question DP’s honesty, openness and integrity”, the report said.
The report added: “Leicestershire CC is under the spotlight with the new national legislation placing the policing of the new Codes of Conduct largely within the whipping systems of the various political parties,” the report concluded. “It places great emphasis on the political parties to give the new standards regime ‘teeth’ and the parties will be expected to enforce group discipline rigorously to deal with errant members.”
Leicestershire Conservatives said they had informed Charnwood & South Leicestershire Conservative Associations and national Conservative Councillors’ Association of the expulsion of Cllr Parsons.
- February: Expenses investigation launched following whistleblower letters
- April: Cllr Parsons survives no confidence motion
- May: Cllr Parsons refuses to authorise European expenses disclosure
- June: Standards committee censures leader and police launch investigation
- July: Cllr Parsons resigns as leader of council
- September: Investigation into use of car launched
- October: Cllr Parsons sends apology letter demanded in June standards report
- November: Conservatives expel Cllr Parsons from group