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South Suffolk: MP Tim Yeo says he is playing ‘strictly by the rules’

PUBLISHED: 12:13 07 January 2014 | UPDATED: 12:13 07 January 2014

Tim Yeo with party supporters at the 2010 election count.

Tim Yeo with party supporters at the 2010 election count.

MP Tim Yeo last night said he was playing “strictly by the rules” in his fight for re-selection to represent South Suffolk at the next General Election.

A trustees’ meeting of the South Suffolk Conservative Association is being held tonight amid claims that party rules about campaigning in such elections have not all been observed by Mr Yeo’s side.

Long-standing committee member Simon Barrett, who is also deputy chairman of Babergh District Council’s strategy committee, said: “There are very strict rules about how the ballot of all the members can be carried out.

“The executive should not make any representations, and the MP is allowed to send out a single A4 sheet which is distributed with the election ballots.”

However he alleged Mr Yeo’s side had been actively campaigning.

Mr Barrett said: “All Conservative members in South Suffolk seem to have got Christmas cards from Mr Yeo this year, which contained a letter on House of Commons headed notepaper saying he would be in touch again in the New Year.

“I’ve been a member of the party for many years. I was there when we originally selected him before the 1983 election, and I’ve never had a card from him before.”

He said members of the executive had also been concerned about the release of letters to Mr Yeo from Suffolk MPs and, just yesterday, from cabinet ministers George Osborne and Michael Gove. A website has also been set up to allow people to register their support for him.

The ballot of about 600 members of the South Suffolk Conservative Association will take place at the end of this month and will be conducted by officials at Conservative Party headquarters in London.

The ballot papers will be sent out on January 20 and the result is due to be declared on Monday, February 3.

A spokesman for Conservative Party HQ said the way the ballot was conducted was an internal party matter and there would be no comment on the rules that governed the process.

Mr Yeo said: “I will make sure that Simon Barrett is included on my Christmas card list next year. Meanwhile I will continue to abide strictly by the Rules of the Conservative Party in relation to all matters connected to the forthcoming postal ballot.”

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