Page last updated at 14:12 GMT, Thursday, 8 October 2009 15:12 UK

Tory banned over 'champagne row'

Midland Hotel
Hotel staff said they saw Mr Whittington take the bottle

A Conservative Party member has been banned from attending its conference after he was arrested on suspicion of stealing a champagne bottle.

Philip Whittington, 27, was taken into custody after he was accused of not paying for the bottle at the Midland Hotel, Manchester, on Monday night.

Greater Manchester Police said he was questioned but released without charge and would face no further action.

The Conservative Party said he may face further disciplinary action.

She said: "We have banned the individual from attending any further conference events and are considering what further action may need to be taken."

Spotted by staff

Mr Whittington has worked as a parliamentary researcher for Tory MP John Baron and the Centre for Social Justice think-tank, which was created by former party leader Iain Duncan Smith.

A police spokesman said hotel staff had alerted officers after seeing the man approach the bar and take a bottle of champagne out of the fridge.

When questioned, he told police there was no-one there to pay so he thought he could pay after having drank it, the spokesman said.

Chairman of the party, Eric Pickles, had earlier warned Tories against appearing triumphant at the conference.

"I want to see less champagne bubbles and more bubbling activity," Mr Pickles said.

David Cameron was spotted with champagne at a party thrown by The Spectator magazine on Monday night.

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