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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 May 2007, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Welsh Tory ex-chairman expelled
Sir Eric Howells
Sir Eric Howells was a life president of the Welsh Conservatives
The Conservatives have expelled a former Welsh party chairman who criticised the selection of a candidate prior to the assembly elections.

Sir Eric Howells claimed a pro-hunting group was responsible for choosing Angela Burns - who won Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire for the Tories.

The party dismissed the claims, made on the BBC's Dragon's Eye TV programme.

A spokesman said Sir Eric and another local member, George Mathias, had been expelled "with deep regret".

Their behaviour was not compatible with the party's aims and principles
Conservative party spokesman

The pair claimed on the programme in January that their local association had been "taken over" by a group of Conservatives connected to a pro-hunting organisation.

They claimed that the majority of local Tory branches wanted a different candidate to Mrs Burns and said if an alternative came forward she should stand down.

At the time the Conservative Party dismissed the claims.

Mrs Burns went on to capture the seat that had previously been held by Labour's Christine Gwyther.

Angela Burns
Angela Burns captured the seat for the Tories from Labour

Sir Eric was a former chairman of the party in Wales and a life president, while Mr Mathias was a member of the local executive committee.

Sir Eric said he still had widespread support in the constituency and that members would leave the party following the decision to expel him.

"I feel very sad that they felt after the number of years that I have given to the party that they should throw me out in the way that they have done," he added.

'Loyal'

A spokesman for the Welsh Conservatives said the party's expulsion panel - a body covering the Tories at a UK level - had taken the decision to expel both men.

One of the main reasons cited was the Dragon's Eye interview.

"This decision was taken with regret given the service both men have given to the party," added the spokesman.

"They have been loyal supporters of the party over a number of years but their behaviour was not compatible with the party's aims and principles."


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Welsh Tories suspend ex-chairman
30 Jan 07 |  South West Wales

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