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Calder Valley: Questions for Conservative HQ

"All roads lead us back to Craig Whittaker MP" says our source; there are questions for the Mayor of Calderdale too...


It’s two weeks since Impolite Conversation broke the news of the police investigation into the accounts of Calder Valley Conservative Association. Since then there have been some interesting developments, although our source’s prediction that the police will be visiting Craig Whittaker MP’s offices next has not been proven correct – yet.


What’s happened since our article
Despite silence from key local party officers and the national Conservative Party, matters are still smouldering away. West Yorkshire Police have said: “Police in Calderdale have been made aware of an allegation of financial irregularity. A criminal investigation has now been launched to examine this allegation, and is in its early stages.”


The local council have also been made aware.


Now a wall of silence has descended over CVCA. This reticence may be understandable and advisable but questions remain and many local party members are concerned, disappointed by the silence and asking questions. On their behalf, as well as the wider community’s, we are asking Conservative Central Office:

  • Councillor Scott Benton, Leader of the Conservative Group on Calderdale Council, seems to have been paid money by CVCA without providing invoices. Should he step down as group leader while the investigation proceeds?
  • Councillor Howard Blagbrough, Mayor of Calderdale, was Treasurer at this time and responsible for the accounts. Should he step down as mayor while the investigation proceeds?
  • Who or which company signed off the accounts in question and who selected them for this job?
  • Both Cllrs Benton and Blagbrough also happen to be employed in the local (rather than Westminster) office of Craig Whittaker, Member of Parliament for Calder Valley. Does Mr Whittaker have any involvement in these matters? (Our source thinks so, hence the prediction that the police will be visiting his offices in the course of their investigation).
  • What does his decision to employ both Cllrs Benton and Blagbrough say about Mr Whittaker's judgement? (Our source, a loyal Conservative supporter, considers it appalling...)
  • What, if anything, did Mr Whittaker know about the accounts and what didn’t he know?
  • Does CCHQ consider Mr Whittaker implicated in this matter?
  • Who was permitted to sign cheques for the association during the time in question?
  • Was anyone else involved in this matter? If so, who are they, and do they work for CVCA or Craig Whittaker MP?
  • Did Craig Whittaker MP ever have access to the CVCA bank account directly?
  • Did anyone else know about the missing invoices?
  • Has there been a cover up, or any attempt at one? If so who, who is involved?


Of course, Conservative Central Office may not have any or all of the answers, and even if they do they may not be able to tell us everything in case it influences the police investigation. But the fact that such questions are being asked by loyal party supporters should ring loud alarms and Central Office's apparent inability to provide reassurance, at least so far, seems telling.


For now Cllrs Benton and Blagbrough retain their statuses on Calderdale council and Cllr Blagbrough is still carrying out all ceremonial functions and dates of the Mayor’s Office.


More when we have it.



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