Disgraced Tory MP paid son’s friend

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A Conservative MP who will today be suspended from the Commons for ten days after revelations about payments to his family has been accused of making additional payments to his son’s friend.

The Sun reports that “disgraced Tory MP Derek Conway gave a job to a close pal of his gay son Henry.”

Earlier this week Mr Conway announced he would be stepping down from Parliament at the next election after being censured by the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee for paying his son Frederick £50,000 of public money for “work” as a researcher.

No evidence of any work done was discovered. At the time his son was a fulltime undergraduate student at Newcastle University.

Mr Conway is the MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup in outer London.

David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative party, decided to remove the whip from Mr Conway on Tuesday, effectively isolating him in Parliament.

Today he will be suspended from the House of Commons and ordered to repay more than £13,000.

Since the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee decision it has emerged that Mr Conway’s elder son Henry, who is gay, had received similar payments during his time at university, totalling £32,000.

Mr Conway’s wife, Colette, has been paid more than £290,000 since he entered Parliament in 2001 in her role as his secretary.

The Sun reports that it has learnt that Mr Conway is currently paying a friend of his son Henry’s, 23-year-old Canadian post-graduate student Michel Pratte, £11,500 a year.

The tabloid press have widely reported that Henry, who is described as a “socialite” and fashion writer, is a patron of upmarket London gay clubs.

The Sun reports: “He is a regular at clubs like The Shadow, which is popular with Elton John and David Furnish,” presumably a reference to the Shadow Lounge in Soho.

Another quote from the paper, echoed in the Daily Mail, reads: “he describes himself on the internet as ‘blond, bouncy and one for the boys.'”

The Independent reports: “His Facebook diary describes him “hotting it up cowboy style” at Prince Harry’s favourite watering hole, Mahiki, on the Thursday before the story broke.

“A day later he was “strutting out la disco” at Maya in Soho. By the weekend he was in the “recovery position” but by Monday was once more “looking hot.””

A friend of Henry’s, who wished to remain anonymous, contacted PinkNews.co.uk.

“Henry is a charming, generous, and warm-hearted human being,” the friend, who works in PR, said.

“He does not deserve the treatment he is receiving at the hands of the press which seems to be targeting him simply because he is gay and like many people his age enjoys fashion and partying.

“He’s a talented writer and socialite with a strong family and I am sure he will get through this difficult time.”

The entire incident has led some to question if MPs should be allowed to employ family members.

Sir Christopher Kelly, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said:

“This case is undoubtedly a very serious breach of parliamentary rules and further undermines public trust in our politicians.

“I understand why there are calls for rules to ban MPs employing members of their families, and, indeed, there are international precedents for doing this, and it could be the right thing to do.”