Bury St Edmunds: Ruffley’s chairman rejects claims that MP abused partner

Joanna Spicer was sent the e-mail by Andrew Speed. Joanna Spicer was sent the e-mail by Andrew Speed.

Saturday, July 26, 2014
8:00 AM

The chairman of David Ruffley’s Conservative Association has told senior Tories he does not believe the incident that led to the MP receiving a police caution for common assault qualifies as domestic abuse.

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Andrew Speed wrote an e-mail to leading county councillors Joanna Spicer and Jenny Antill who have both been critical of the Conservative Party’s response to the controversy surrounding the Bury St Edmunds MP.

Mr Speed copied the e-mail to other senior Conservatives in the Bury St Edmunds area – and made it clear that he and the association do not condone domestic violence.

The e-mail said: “ Reference your comments in press recently, can I just go on record as stating that we don’t condone domestic violence.

“As importantly, based on the information I have to hand I do not believe David’s incident qualifies in any way as domestic abuse.

“Only two people actually know of course what happened, which is why our statement released early July, has been appropriate to date.

“I understand why the opposition and minority feminist groups might try and make the link to DV but surprised others have.

“The past few weeks have, of course, been utterly frustrating and difficult, but we expect statements to be issued this week, and will resolve the situation at the Exec meeting next week.”

The executive of the Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association is due to meet next Thursday in a meeting brought forward from September. Mr Ruffley has been asked to attend, and the controversy about the incident in March when he received a caution for common assault in what was described by the Metropolitan Police as a “domestic incident.”

When the EADT asked Mr Speed about the e-mail, he said he was sorry that what he regarded as a private e-mail had been sent to the press.

He said: “It is disappointing, though not surprising, that private e-mail correspondence is not treated confidentially.

“I reiterate that I do not in any way condone domestic violence. Under CPS guidelines a caution for common assault may be considered ‘where there is no injury or injuries which are not serious.’

“My e-mail, which reflects my own personal conversation and opinion, was not sent on behalf of the Association.”

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