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The BBC's Norman Smith
"Some of the strongest comments were removed moments before he spoke"
 real 28k

Saturday, 27 November, 1999, 14:20 GMT
Hague 'will not tolerate sleaze'
William Hague: Attacked Labour 'sleaze'

Opposition Leader William Hague, defending his decision to expel Jeffrey Archer from the Conservative Party in the House of Lords, says he will not tolerate sleaze.

Mr Hague, addressing the Conservative Women's Committee in Birmingham, said the party would "not tolerate individuals whose behaviour casts a shadow over us all".

Lord Archer: Faces expulsion
The Tory whip was withdrawn from Lord Archer on Monday after it was revealed he had persuaded a friend to give him a false alibi as he prepared for libel proceedings over newspaper claims he slept with a prostitute.

The author and politician also withdrew from the race to become London's mayor.

Mr Hague has also ordered Lord Archer to appear before the Conservatives' Ethics and Integrity Committee, which could take away his party membership.

'Labour sleaze'

The opposition leader, who has been facing criticism from Labour for allowing Lord Archer to stand as the Tory London mayoral candidate, said he would "take no lectures" from the government.

He tried to turn the sleaze spotlight onto Labour, criticising the return to the Cabinet of Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson, who stepped down last year after it was revealed he had taken a private loan from former paymaster general Geoffrey Robinson.

Mr Hague said: "The difference between Tony Blair and me is that when I catch someone lying I kick them out of the party; when he catches someone lying, he re-appoints them to his cabinet."

He also told the conference he was keen to see more Conservative women MPs.

The Tories have come under fire for having a disproportionately low number of women candidates.

Mr Hague said: "We've got to select many more women candidates in the months ahead.

"We have to make sure we are a genuinely open party to those who develop professional careers alongside caring for their families."

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See also:
26 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Archer breaks cover

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