Nick Ramsay: Dispute over Tory facing deselection's party status

By David Deans
BBC News

Image caption,
Nick Ramsay had tried to stop Monday's meeting from going ahead

The Conservative Senedd member for Monmouth has disputed claims he is not a member of the party he represents.

Nick Ramsay is facing deselection after losing a crucial vote of the Monmouth Conservative Association on Monday.

According to association chairman Nick Hackett-Pain, Mr Ramsay was unable to vote at that meeting because he has not renewed his membership.

But a solicitor for Mr Ramsay said the Member of the Senedd had been a member of the party since July.

Meanwhile it has been confirmed that the association will meet on 14 December to decide whether to go ahead with deselecting Mr Ramsay.

Last week Mr Ramsay attempted to take his local association to court, in a bid to stop a special general meeting (SGM) taking place to discuss a petition calling for the deselection.

During a court hearing where Mr Ramsay withdrew his legal action, a barrister for the association Greg Callus claimed Mr Ramsay is "not currently a member" of the association, although later added that his status was "disputed".

The meeting went ahead, and members voted to back the petition on Monday.

Prior to Mr Hackett-Pain's comments, the Member of the Senedd (MS) for Monmouth said the "first" he heard of his lack of membership "was last week".

"It cannot be the case as I received invites to Monday's SGM addressed to me as a member," he said.

What did the chairman say?

Association chair Mr Hackett-Pain said: "Nick Ramsay's membership ran out during the time he was suspended from the party back in March earlier this year.

"His suspension was lifted by the party in July. Since July he has made no attempt to re-join the party.

"He has not paid his membership fees and therefore technically, as things stand at the moment, he's not a member of the Conservative Party."

Asked if Mr Ramsay could vote at Monday's meeting, he added: "If you're not a member of the party, you can't vote can you?"

Mr Ramsay solicitor, Tim Gir, said the MS has been a member of the party since July.

The politician was suspended by the Conservative Party at the start of the year after he was arrested on New Year's Day. Mr Ramsay was released without charge two days later.

Mr Ramsay's solicitors later said he was considering suing Gwent Police for wrongful arrest.

A Welsh Conservative spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment.