NEWS

2012-01-27

MEP, ghosts and aliens

A ROW has broken out after it emerged a potential conservative MEP published books on aliens, ghosts and golliwogs.

Conservative MEP Roger Helmer, who represents the entire East Midlands region, was due to stand down from his post in December.

But a storm has erupted between him and the Conservative party’s head office over his expected successor, publisher Rupert Matthews, from Blisworth, Northamptonshire, who has raised eyebrows amongst members because of his unconventional interests.

The Conservative Party is being accused of being reluctant to appoint Mr Matthews because of his paranormal expertise, which stretches to him offering online tutorials on the topic.

He also attracted controversy when he published a pamphlet on ‘Political Correctness’ which featured gollywogs on the cover.

In 2009 the Conservatives party won two MEP seats in the Euro elections, given to the first two on the candidate list, Mr Helmer and Emma McClarkin, while Mr Matthews was the unsuccessful runner-up.

By convention the next on the party list succeeds if any MEP dies or resigns. In this case that would be Mr Matthews.

“Rupert Matthews runs a small publishing business and publishes a wide range of titles, largely about history, a line in children’s books and a handful on the paranormal and some political issues," said Roger.

"It is a business which makes money and he’s found a good market for books about the paranormal. The assumption that he’s therefore a nutter is absurd.

“I know him and I am confident in him but most importantly he has earned it; he has been voted into his position by voters and party members. I am unmoved about the nonsense over the paranormal.

“It’s a stand-off at the moment between me and the party’s central office; they won’t move until I move and I won’t move until they move.

“This is not because I want to dictate my successor, I want the party to respect the East Midlands party members and voters.

“I take my role seriously and I am prepared to do it until the end of the term in 2014 unless the party do the decent thing.”

But a spokesman for the Conservative Party’s central office said there is currently no vacancy to fill, and therefore could not confirm who would be a replacement.

He added: “We have to make a series of checks when there is a vacancy, if the next person on the list meets the criteria then they will be appointed.”

Mr Matthews refused to comment on the controversy, but said: “Roger Helmer has not yet resigned as a Conservative MEP for the East Midlands.

“The process of my replacing him will not begin until such time as he actually resigns.”