Nazi-row MP to quit at election
7:07pm Wednesday 5th February 2014 in © Press Association 2014
The Tory MP at the centre of a row over a Nazi-themed stag party will quit Parliament at the 2015 general election.
Cannock Chase MP Aidan Burley was sacked as a ministerial aide when reports of the episode emerged in 2011, and an internal party inquiry last month found he was "stupid and offensive" to have organised the party.
Groom Mark Fournier was fined 1,500 euro (£1,250) by a French court for wearing an SS uniform and insignia supplied by the MP.
Mr Burley said: "After a difficult time I have decided to announce I will stand down at the next general election. I will continue to work for the people of Cannock Chase until that election, and look forward to supporting my successor, as soon as he or she is selected, to ensure that Labour have no chance of re-taking this seat."
Announcing his decision not to stand in 2015 Mr Burley said: " It was a wonderful surprise to win the seat of Cannock Chase in May 2010 with the biggest swing in the country and it has been a huge privilege to represent the people of Cannock Chase in Parliament over the past four years.
"I am grateful to all those who voted for me and supported our campaign which led to our famous victory, winning a seat which had been held by Labour for 18 years.
"In particular I would like to thank my agent Ian Collard, without whom none of this would have been possible, and who has been my rock of support since being selected as the Conservative candidate in July 2008.
"I am proud to have been able to deliver many positive things for our area since our election success, including spearheading the campaign to save Cannock Chase Hospital from the administrators' axe, running four local jobs fairs to help get people back into work, and securing £35 million to electrify the Chase Line. That is what really matters to local people in their day to day lives."
Tory chairman Grant Shapps said: " Aidan has a strong record in his constituency from securing the future of Cannock Chase Hospital, to setting up local job fairs and getting hundreds of people back to work.
"He has served his constituents with dedication and commitment.
"I wish him the best of luck with whatever he does next. "
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Ashworth said: "It shows huge weakness that David Cameron wasn't prepared to take action against his disgraced MP, but it's right that Aidan Burley has finally done the right thing in stepping down.
"After his behaviour at a stag party where a Nazi uniform was worn and the names of Nazi leaders were chanted, his position was completely untenable."
Details of the stag do, in the Alpine ski resort Val Thorens, were first reported in the Mail on Sunday in 2011.
The disciplinary investigation by Tory Lord David Gold shows that the peer accepted the assurances of the Cannock Chase MP that there was "no political motivation whatsoever" in the choice of theme.
But he said his "unacceptable and offensive actions" threw into question his judgment and that it was right that he was sacked as parliamentary private secretary to Philip Hammond.
Lord Gold said that despite accepting that Mr Burley left the dinner in protest at one guest raising a Nazi-themed toast, the MP failed to make it "explicitly clear" that he objected.
But after the report's release, the Mail on Sunday published photographs and tape-recordings which appeared to contradict Mr Burley's claims that he left the party before fellow guests went to a bar where revellers chanted "Hitler" and "Himmler".
Geordie Greig, the newspaper's editor, said: " The Mail on Sunday welcomes the resignation of Aidan Burley MP.
"Following our newspaper's revelation that Mr Burley helped organise a Nazi-themed stag party, Mr Burley told an official Conservative Party inquiry that he was not at the pub where his friends chanted Nazi slogans.
"He also told the inquiry that his friend only made a Nazi salute at the request of The Mail on Sunday's journalists.
"These statements were totally untrue, as we have demonstrated.
"We are deeply concerned by the fact that Lord Gold accepted the false statements made by Mr Burley in his official report for the Conservative Party, and made no attempt to ascertain the facts from The Mail on Sunday.
"Yesterday Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth criticised us for the way we have reported this matter, and used it to justify the Leveson inquiry.
"On the contrary, it is my firm belief that Mr Burley's resignation vindicates The Mail on Sunday. It also underlines the importance of having a vigorous free Press."