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Sunday, January 31, 1999 Published at 18:31 GMT

UK Politics

Drugs scandal MEP quits

United front: Tom Spencer and his wife

Tom Spencer, the Tory Euro-MP found with gay pornography and drugs at customs, will not be standing as a candidate for the forthcoming European elections in June.

The BBC's Jon Devitt reports on Tom Spencer's political demise
His decision effectively means he has decided to quit the European Parliament.

Mr Spencer told the BBC that he had reached his decision after speaking to Conservative Party chairman Michael Ancram.

"I have concluded that it is in the best interests of everybody that I withdraw from the party list for the forthcoming European election," he said.

"My family would be grateful if we could be allowed to rebuild our lives."

Reacting to the decision, Mr Ancram said: "I welcome his decision to resign from the Conservative list, which I believe is in the best interests of himself, his family and the party.

"I would like to pay tribute to him for the important work he has done on behalf of the party in Europe over the years.

"I hope he may now be given the space to rebuild his life."

[ image: Liz: Standing by her man]
Liz: Standing by her man
Earlier on Sunday, Chief Whip of the Tory Euro-MPs John Corrie withdrew the whip from the disgraced politician pending an investigation by the party's ethics committee.

The decision means that Mr Spencer is excluded from Tory group acitivities in Brussels and Strasbourg.

The leader of the Conservative MEPs Edward MacMillan Scott said the move was an indication of the gravity of Mr Spencer's admission of carrying drugs and gay pornography.

Mr Spencer earlier said he had never denied being a homosexual, but described his actions as "extraordinarily stupid".

Liz Spencer: "I've always known that Tom was gay"
Customs officers stopped Mr Spencer at Heathrow Airport with the gay pornography and two cannabis cigarettes in his luggage. Both items of contraband are not illegal in other parts of the European Union.

The Euro-MP for Surrey agreed to pay a £600 on the spot penalty.

Speaking on Saturday night, Mr Spencer, who has two daughters and a stepdaughter and has been married for more than 20 years, said his wife has always known he is gay.

"I've been very foolish but I intend to be entirely honest about this," he said.

"I am gay and I have always been gay. My wife and I discussed this before we were married."

[ image: Customs: Stopped Spencer at Heathrow]
Customs: Stopped Spencer at Heathrow
He said that while he had smoked cannabis in the past, he had not done so for "decades".

He had been given the cannabis joints by friends, he said, adding: "That's Amsterdam".

Mr Spencer told ITV's London Weekend Tonight: "I have always been liberal on social issues of this kind, and part of the way we have lived our lives is occasionally I would go away for a weekend.

"And so I went for a weekend in Amsterdam, while I was there I was given some drugs, which I should have thrown away - but I did not, I was not concentrating."

The question of whether the pornography would be considered obscene was "a matter of judgement", he said.

"These things are openly on sale in France, the British regard them as pornographic," he said.

Mr Spencer's wife, Liz, said she had known of her husband's sexuality when they met at university, and they had "talked thought the consequences" before they married.

"We believed we could make it work, and I have to say I believe we have," she said.

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