Page last updated at 21:08 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009

MP sorry for Nazi analogy e-mail

David Wilshire
The Tory MP says he confident of being cleared of any expenses wrongdoing

An MP has denied equating his treatment over expenses to the Holocaust - but apologised for any "upset" caused by a "clumsily" worded e-mail.

David Wilshire, Tory MP for Spelthorne, made the apology after party leader David Cameron said his comments had been "frankly ludicrous".

But he said he had used the example of Nazi treatment of the Jews to show the "horrendous" results of mass hatred.

Mr Wilshire was forced to announce last month that he would step down as an MP.

This came after reports that he had paid more than £100,000 of taxpayer-funded expenses into a company he owned.

The Daily Telegraph said Mr Wilshire had paid up to £3,250 a month in parliamentary office allowances to Moorlands Research Services between 2005 and 2008.

'Witch-hunt'

Extra invoices were also submitted and the total paid to the company - owned by him and his partner Ann Palmer - was £105,500.

In his email response to subsequent correspondence, which he said had included death threats, Mr Wilshire wrote: "The witch-hunt against MPs in general will undermine democracy.

Amongst the unpleasant things said were that I should immediately be taken out and strung up from a lamp post
David Wilshire MP

"It will weaken Parliament - handing yet more power to governments. Branding a whole group of people as undesirables led to Hitler's gas chambers."

But in a later statement, Mr Wilshire said: "In a reply to very unpleasant e-mails from about half a dozen people... I did refer to the Holocaust. I was not seeking to equate what is happening to MPs with the Holocaust.

"I was simply warning that history teaches that the sentiments expressed in such e-mails can lead to horrendous consequences.

"So, if anyone finds my response to these emails inappropriate I apologise unreservedly. The last thing I want to do is upset anyone.

"However, all these e-mails assumed a newspaper's untested allegations were proof of guilt.

"Amongst the unpleasant things said were that I should immediately be taken out and strung up from a lamp post, that the sender was coming to shoot me and that most MPs were corrupt and ought to be disposed of."

'Understand the public'

He added: "I continue to believe that the two general anxieties I raised in my e-mail need to be taken very seriously (however clumsily I might have expressed them in the first place)."

Mr Cameron earlier said Mr Wilshire should withdraw his comparison of a witch-hunt against MPs with Jews' treatment in Nazi Germany.

He said it was "a frankly ludicrous thing to say. I think he should withdraw it".

"MPs have got to understand that the public does not have confidence in our expenses system, the expenses system needs to change, MPs need to demonstrate they understand that," he said.

The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner is investigating Mr Wilshire after allegations about his payment of public money to a company he owned.

Mr Wilshire, who referred the matter to the commissioner after the claims appeared in the Daily Telegraph, has denied any wrongdoing.

But he announced last month he would not contest the next election for his party's sake.

Mr Wilshire has been an MP since 1987 and was returned with a majority of 11,684 at the last general election in 2005.

He is one of more than 100 current MPs who have said they will not seek re-election - including many whose conduct over expenses has been questioned.



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