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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 September, 2004, 21:43 GMT 22:43 UK
Gay Tory candidate survives vote
Ashley Crossley
Mr Crossley has clashed with senior local Tory figures
A gay Conservative candidate has survived a deselection vote within his local party after winning support from Tory leader Michael Howard.

The vote of no confidence in Ashley Crossley was overwhelmingly defeated in Falmouth and Camborne, Cornwall.

Mr Howard earlier stepped in after press reports that Ashley Crossley had been the victim of homophobia.

He said there was "no place whatever for discrimination of that kind" in his party, in a letter to local Tories.

Suspended

More than a third of the local Tory party attended the vote on Wednesday evening.

Mr Crossley has clashed with local party members over claims they promoted a pro-UK Independence Party video.

All eight of Falmouth and Camborne Conservative Association's management team were suspended by Central Office - a move backed by Mr Crossley.

As well as the allegations of "unconstitutional activity" relating to the promotion of a video backing UKIP there also claims that the local association failed to deal with "homophobic remarks" at a local party meeting in June.

All those suspended have mounted appeals which are due to be heard before an independent panel in London next Tuesday.

'Honour'

Mr Crossley said he was "very, very happy" with the result of the no confidence vote.

He said: "Now that the deselection process is over, we can move on and continue a very successful campaign highlighting the positive policies that the Conservative party can bring to Falmouth and Camborne.

"This association is a good association, and it is an honour to be the prospective parliamentary candidate."

Earlier, Mr Howard said in a letter to Ernest Lister, the acting chairman of the local Tory Association: "I lead a party of all Britons for all Britain.

"I also want to make it clear that it would be completely unacceptable if any consideration of that kind [discrimination] were to influence the way you vote this evening.

"I am sure that those attending the meeting will share these views."

'Full confidence'

Mr Howard requested Mr Lister read his letter out at the meeting.

Tory co-chairman Liam Fox meanwhile stressed that Mr Crossley, a 31-year-old barrister, had the "full confidence" of Conservative Central Office.

Falmouth and Camborne is currently held by Labour with a majority 4,500.

Between 1974 and 1997 it was held by the Tories until the sitting MP Seb Coe was ousted.




SEE ALSO:
Gay rights plan suffers in Lords
24 Jun 04  |  Politics
Tories 'to learn from gay summit'
29 Mar 04  |  Politics


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