War of words erupts between MPs over ‘dodgy’ Hull fundraiser

MP Karl Turner
MP Karl Turner
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An MP has threatened another MP in a neighbouring constituency with legal action for suggesting a fundraiser he was organising was “dodgy.”

Labour East Hull MP Karl Turner is demanding a public apology from Tory Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart for the remark made over the £45-a-head “Hull and Humber Economic Summit” due to have been held in May.

However tonight it drew a furious response from Mr Stuart who referred to the definition of dodgy as “poor quality, unreliable, questionable, dubious” in a letter to Mr Turner, adding: “This and the twitter hashtag “dodgyfundraiser” seems to me entirely appropriate terms to describe the way your Summit was marketed to the public.”

Mr Turner cancelled the event following claims by East Riding Tory councillor Mike Whitehead that he used taxpayer-funded resources to organise what was in fact a Labour party fundraiser and referred himself to Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Hudson.

The MP also apologised “unreservedly” for sending out invitations using parliamentary e-mail accounts. Ms Hudson passed the matter onto Parliamentary Standards Compliance Officer Peter Davis who now says opening an investigation would be “disproportionate and unnecessary”, as Mr Turner had already apologised.

Mr Turner said he had been “vindicated” and now wanted a public apology. He said: “I believe the complaint was nothing short of a political stunt designed to scupper an extremely important business event.”

However Mr Stuart said he regrets Mr Turner putting “so much energy into a vendetta against those who have pointed out your unacceptable behaviour” and pointed out that Mr Davis said he would be writing to Mr Turner “making recommendations for the future conduct of his office.”

He added: “Perhaps you could be good enough to make these recommendations public so that your future behaviour can be judged against their advice. For the elimination of doubt I entirely refute your “claim’ and do not need legal advice to state that it is groundless.” He also invited Mr Turner to comment on claims by two individuals, regarding unsolicited invitations to Labour Party events, they say, were sent out by Mr Turner’s office on parliamentary stationery, and questioned Mr Turner’s claim that all calls made to his office over the event were either personally answered by him, or a note was taken so he could return the call.

He said: “As a busy MP with responsibilities in the House of Commons I find it an extraordinary that you fielded all calls relating to the event itself and that you staff simply passed dozens and dozens of such inquiries to you...if those who bought tickets to the events were asked who they spoke to in order to make their reservations, would they remember they spoke to their MP personally?”