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Sunday, March 28, 1999 Published at 10:06 GMT

UK Politics

Massage parlour MP 'not resigning'

Joe Ashton, 65, has a majority of more than 17,000

A Labour MP, who was questioned by police after being found at a Thai massage parlour during a raid, has denied newspaper reports that he is resigning over the matter.

The Mail on Sunday claims that Joe Ashton, MP for Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire, discussed the possibility of resigning his seat with Labour Party officials after the story broke two weeks ago.

But Mr Ashton, 65, says he is simply standing down at the next election, as was always his plan.

[ image: Mr Ashton was in this massage parlour when police arrived]
Mr Ashton was in this massage parlour when police arrived
"I had said to my constituency chairman and agent a year ago that I would be standing down at the next election," he said.

"I told the Chief Whip and the whips and many other MPs, who knew that, next election, I would stand down. So it's nonsense."

The Mail on Sunday says that Mr Ashton was to end his political career amid "embarrassing new disclosures" about the visit to the Siam Sauna in Northampton last November.

But it says Labour officials, facing possible by-elections in Newark and Glasgow as a result of court cases against MPs Fiona Jones and Mohammed Sarwar, persuaded him not to stand down.

MP for 30 years

The veteran MP, who resigned as a director of Sheffield Wednesday football club this week, has represented Bassetlaw since 1968.

Northamptonshire police raided the massage parlour as part of a joint investigation with immigration service officials.

They were looking into allegations that vulnerable Thai girls were being smuggled into Britain to work illegally as prostitutes.

The Mail on Sunday says it has tracked down the 21-year-old Thai masseuse who was with Mr Ashton at the time of the raid.

Khwanrean Maimong, now back in Thailand, confirmed that Mr Ashton had paid for an ordinary body massage and had not mentioned sex.

The paper says the girl had been "offered £10,000 to say she had full sex with Mr Ashton" but would not lie.

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