Nazi stag-do MP keeps Tory whip
A “stupid and naïve” Conservative MP will keep the party whip despite an internal Tory report accepting he bought an SS fancy dress outfit and organised a Nazi-themed stag-do.
The exact details of Aidan Burley's level of involvement in the revelry had been unclear since the event at a French ski resort in 2011.
The session included Mr Burley's friend dressing up as an SS officer, toasting the Third Reich and chanting the names of senior Nazis.
Critics claimed this week that details within a newly-released internal Conservative report proved Mr Burley had lied in a letter of apology he wrote to the JC following the party.
But while his December 2011 letter acknowledged he had behaved “inappropriately” and included an “unreserved, wholehearted” apology, it did not address the issue of who bought the Nazi outfit for the groom, Mark Fournier.
Mr Fournier was handed the maximum fine of 1,500 euros by a French court on Tuesday, sparking the release of the Tory investigation's findings.
Compiled by Lord Gold – a former president of Southend and Westcliff Hebrew Congregation – the report concluded that Mr Burley’s conduct had caused “deep offence – he acted in an unacceptable and offensive way.
"Mr Burley is not a bad man, still less a racist or antisemite. However, his actions were stupid and offensive."
A Conservative Party spokesman confirmed no further action would be taken against the Cannock Chase MP, who was sacked as a Parliamentary private secretary after the stag-do.
The summary of Lord Gold’s findings revealed that as best man Mr Burley had “purchased the [SS] costume alongside the flights and other costs associated with the trip on behalf of the other attendees”.
Mr Burley told the investigation that the costume had been “inspired by the British comic association with aspects of the war” and that no offence had been intended.
Lord Gold said the MP had displayed “considerable naivety” in carrying out the plan.
The MP said he had left the party immediately after Mr Fornier gave a "deeply offensive" toast. Mr Burley also claimed that a Nazi salute performed by the groom had been instigated by a Mail on Sunday journalist at the restaurant.
But the findings were criticised by political opponents. Labour’s Dudley North MP Ian Austin has repeatedly called for Mr Burley to be sacked and suggested he had lied in the apology to the JC following the incident.
Others defended the 35-year-old. Conservative Friends of Israel director Stuart Polak said he had worked with Mr Burley “for several years. He is not antisemitic in any way. He did however act foolishly. He apologised and rightly lost his job as a PPS”.
Mr Burley told the Wolverhampton Express and Star that his letter to the JC was an admission of “unacceptable behaviour” but that he had not lied about buying the fancy dress.
“I admitted it to the Conservative Party,” he told the paper. “I regret the incident and I hope now we can put it behind us. I apologised then and I apologise again now for my role in it.”
He said the groom’s friends had chosen the outfit “in the spirit of mocking the Nazis. There was no malicious intent, no ideological motive, no desire to offend people. And that was borne out by the investigation by the French authorities.”