Bristol

Tory MP Jack Lopresti blames 'smear campaign' for deselection call

Jack Lopresti Image copyright Jack Lopresti
Image caption Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti said it was 'up to party members to decide his future'

A Conservative MP who faced deselection by his own party has blamed a "vicious smear campaign" against him following revelations about his private life.

Jack Lopresti said a letter sent to party members calling for a new candidate was part of an "attempt to destroy my character and reputation".

The Filton and Bradley Stoke MP left his wife for fellow MP Andrea Jenkyns, who gave birth to their son in March.

Mr Lopresti was reselected at a meeting on Friday evening.

An anonymous letter sent to Conservative Party members in the constituency earlier this month said there were "many of us who feel very strongly that Mr Lopresti is not representing our constituency in a very good way".

It added there were "several excellent people" who should be given the chance to become the prospective parliamentary candidate.

The local party has reacted to the letter by writing to party members assuring that "appropriate legal action" would be taken if the writer was identified.

Image caption Part of the letter circulated anonymously to local Conservatives

He was first elected in 2010 and re-elected with a near-10,000 majority five years later.

In November last year, it was reported he had become engaged to Ms Jenkyns — who ousted former Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls to become MP for Morley and Outwood in 2015. Their son, Clifford George, was born in March.

Image caption Andrea Jenkyns has represented Morley and Outwood since 2015

Character attack

"For the last month my family and I have been subject to a vicious smear campaign with racist overtones," he said.

"Since the day after my son Clifford was born, my office has been bombarded with bogus calls from people purporting to be national journalists and with dark threats of illegally taped conversations. This has deeply upset my staff.

"I have had many messages of support from party members and lots of constituents, and I am sure that this recent attempt to destroy my character and reputation has been orchestrated by a small handful of people.

"I can only think that this is as a result of personal choices I have made in my private life, which some may not have approved.

"I love my fiancee Andrea and am extremely proud of my young son Clifford and nobody will ever be able to change that."