Prime Minister offers support to Suffolk MP after ‘suicide bid’

PRIME Minister David Cameron has visited Suffolk MP David Ruffley and offered him his support after he jumped in front of a train in an apparent suicide attempt, the EADT can reveal.

Mr Ruffley, 48, miraculously survived the incident at London’s Victoria Station with minor injuries when the train passed over him and he did not make contact with the live rail.

Last night friends told the EADT he had been courageously fighting depression throughout May’s general election.

They said they had been concerned for his health for some time and revealed how last year’s expenses scandal had deeply affected the 48-year-old, who is MP for the Bury St Edmunds constituency, which includes Stowmarket.

Mr Ruffley was taken to St Thomas’s Hospital after the incident, which happened around 5pm on Thursday.

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He is now believed to be out of hospital and is said to be making a good recovery.

It is understood Mr Cameron visited Mr Ruffley on Saturday to wish him well and to assure him that he had his full support.

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Last night a close colleague of Mr Ruffley told the EADT: “He is now out of St Thomas’s and is being cared for and getting the proper support he needs to make a full recovery.

“David has been unwell, suffering from depression, for a while. He fought it very courageously during the general election and I think his colleagues thought that he was on the mend.

“Clearly that proved not to be the case. However, I think this lucky deliverance really is a blessing in disguise.

“He will now get the proper medical treatment that he needs that will allow him to make a full recovery. I fully expect him to emerge better and stronger for it.”

Virginia Tuck, who was Mr Ruffley’s general election agent and now works for him within the constituency, said his thoughts had already turned to his constituents.

“David is continuing to make a good recovery and his only concern now is for his constituents,” she said.

“I have been able to reassure him that his regular surgeries will continue with the assistance of local councillors and a normal service for his constituents will still be operating.

“If his constituents need his support they should contact his House of Commons office as usual.”

Mr Ruffley had faced some criticism during last year’s expenses scandal, and one friend said it had left him very distressed. In an open letter to his constituents at the time, he fiercely denied he had ever ‘flipped’ his second home in order to sell any property to make a gain, and said he had never avoided paying capital gains tax.

Included in his expenses was a claim of �1,674 for a sofa and �2,175 for a 46in Sony widescreen television, bought from Harrods in London – although this was capped at �750 by the Fees Office.

He subsequently voluntarily repaid more than �1,200 of his claims and pledged to publish every one of his expenses regardless of what new Parliamentary rules were brought in.

Mr Ruffley also called for the then expenses system to be scrapped as soon as possible because it was destroying public confidence in politicians.

Joanna Spicer, Conservative county councillor for Blackbourn and friend of Mr Ruffley, said colleagues had been worried about the MP’s health for some time but said he would receive a lot of support.

“We have been worried for a long time that he wasn’t well,” she said. “My particular worry was whether he was getting the care and treatment I thought he needed.

“He was distressed by the expenses affair. By the enormity of it and, perhaps, embarrassed.

“Compared with other MPs I talked to at the time, he was more apologetic to everybody.

“He had seemed better during the election campaign.I hope he is getting some really good care and treatment.

“We are very shaken up about what happened. It is important he knows he is greatly respected as an MP and there are lots of people who can help until he’s back to work, which I hope he soon will be.”

Mr Ruffley kept hold of his seat in May’s general election by securing an impressive majority of 12,380 votes.

However, he has taken part in just six debates in the House of Commons this year, the last of which was in February.

Last night fellow MPs and friends offered their messages of support.

South Suffolk Conservative MP Tim Yeo said Mr Ruffley was a very highly valued colleague and friend.

“I wish him a speedy recovery,” he said. “I wasn’t aware of any problems he might have had. I think he has been fine. I have seen him in the House of Commons.

“He has a very great many friends and supporters in the House – of which I would like to think I am one – and I look forward to working with him very closely again in the future.”

Jane Storey, Suffolk County Council deputy leader, said: “We all hope he makes a rapid and full recovery.

“It’s all very sad. He is such a nice man and he cares so deeply for the constituency and the people who live here.”

Mark Ereira, who has fought Mr Ruffley in three separate general elections for both Labour and the Green Party, said: “My heart goes out to him. I’ve know him politically for a long time and we get on well on a personal level.”

A spokeswoman for the Conservative Party confirmed Mr Ruffley received “minor injuries” at a London railway station on Thursday evening.

A British Transport Police spokeswoman said the incident was being treated as “non-suspicious”.

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