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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 September, 2004, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
MP's aide gave tour to protester
Henry Bellingham MP
MP Henry Bellingham had denied any link, in a live BBC interview
A Norfolk MP has admitted his assistant unwittingly gave a pro-hunt protester a tour of the House of Commons before Wednesday's security breach.

During a BBC interview on Thursday, Tory MP Henry Bellingham denied his staff had met any of the protesters.

On Saturday, he told the BBC protester Otis Ferry was shown around Parliament and taken to a terrace for drinks.

He said he had known about the tour, but his chief whip had told him not to mention it until police were informed.

Mr Bellingham told the BBC his assistant had been tricked by Mr Ferry, who was shown around the Commons on Monday.

Police statement

Mr Bellingham said a meeting between his assistant and Mr Ferry, 21, had taken place, and she had unwittingly shown him around the maze of corridors.

He told the BBC: "Otis Ferry had asked for a meeting with me on Monday.

"I wasn't able to meet him. My assistant Eleanor Harris met him in the central lobby and had a drink with him on the terrace."

He said she was giving a statement to police in Oxfordshire on Saturday.

He also explained: "I was advised by the chief whip that it could be important to a police inquiry and they should know about it first."

Mr Ferry - son of Roxy Music star Bryan - was among eight protesters who breached the House of Commons security prior to Wednesday's hunting vote.

Otis Ferry
Otis Ferry was taken for drinks on a terrace at Parliament
Five made it into the actual chamber. All eight were arrested.

The protesters have asserted they acted alone and were able to find their way in.

On Thursday, a member of Mr Bellingham's staff was rumoured to have met one of the protesters - an accusation the MP for North West Norfolk denied during a live BBC Look East interview.

When asked if his staff had enabled the protesters to enter the Commons, he said: "I can say quite categorically myself nor my two staff met the protesters in central lobby or helped them go through security doors either yesterday or the day before, so obviously I have taken their word for it and it's a categorical denial."

He said the rumours had been spread by Labour.

The protesters said they relied on a map of the Commons they found on the internet, and had forged a letter suggesting they were workmen which had allowed them into the Palace of Westminster.


SEE ALSO:
Commons invader denies inside job
17 Sep 04  |  Politics


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