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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 December, 2004, 10:27 GMT
Six Falmouth Conservatives banned
Ashley Crossley
Ashley Crossley was criticised by one of the suspended officers
Falmouth Conservatives have removed six suspended party members from the local association following recommendations from an independent panel.

The Conservative Party Board decision stems from two separate incidents.

Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Ashley Crossley said he hoped the move would draw a line under the affair.

But one suspended officer, Mike Varney, said he would leave the party and was ready to go against any Tory candidate at 2005's county council elections.

Five officers: Quentin Peck, Dorothy Smith, Mike Burden, John Stanley and William Harrell; were disqualified after their alleged involvement in distributing a video sympathetic to the rival party UKIP.

Mr Varney, a Carrick councillor and a Falmouth Town councillor, was barred after publicly criticising Ashley Crossley.

They want me to stay in the party but they don't want me to say anything
Mike Varney
Mr Crossley said he hoped the move meant that the constituency party could now focus on the next election.

The Falmouth and Camborne seat, currently held by Labour MP Candy Atherton with a 4,500 majority, is regarded by the Conservatives as winnable.

The seat was held by the Tories from 1974 until retired athlete Sebastian Coe was voted out as MP in 1997.

Mr Varney was accused of making homophobic comments about Mr Crossley at a meeting in June.

An independent investigation was undecided about the remarks and Mr Varney always denied making them.

But he was found to have made sustained comments about Mr Crossley's style and admitted accusing him publicly of being "too dictatorial".

Mr Varney said he was "disgusted" with the decision to bar him. He said he would resign from the party and fight county council elections as an independent.

He said: "I could have walked from this situation many months ago, but it's a matter of principle.

"They want me to stay in the party but they don't want me to say anything.

"I believe in freedom of speech. Now they're trying to stifle me because I've had the audacity to speak to the media and say what I feel.

"My concern has always been to the people of the constituency."

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