Terror attack hero minister is quizzed over ‘inappropriate‘ comments about sensitive security matters he allegedly made to a diplomat in the US
Claim: Tobias Ellwood (pictured) was quizzed by senior party figures over claims stemming from his official visit to the US last year
A Defence Minister was at the centre of an extraordinary row last night over allegations that he spoke ‘inappropriately‘ about sensitive security matters to a diplomatic colleague in America.
Tobias Ellwood – who was hailed for his heroism during the 2017 Westminster terror attack – was quizzed by senior party figures over claims stemming from his official visit to the US last year.
Last night, the MP, a former captain in the Royal Green Jackets infantry regiment, reacted with fury to The Mail on Sunday‘s inquiries about the incident, saying he had not been subject to a ‘formal complaint‘ or a ‘formal reprimand‘ and insisting the allegations ‘emanate from someone with a political agenda‘.
It comes after Mr Ellwood ruled himself out of the race during a bad-tempered TV appearance. After being asked whether he was planning to run, Mr Ellwood said: ‘I don‘t have the rank and I don‘t have the experience.
‘I am not going to run and this isn‘t a TV reality contest.‘
It is understood that the complaint about Mr Ellwood was made by a female worker attached to the British Embassy in Washington, whose allegations included the claim that Mr Ellwood, 52, had been indiscreet about sensitive security matters.
Government sources say that the complaint was passed back to London, and led to Mr Ellwood being called back from a family holiday in August to be questioned by Chief Whip Julian Smith.
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The sources add that the complainant had been invited to ‘escalate‘ the case, but had declined. One said: ‘The complaint in question is not currently a live investigation.‘
Mr Ellwood, who tried in vain to save the life of PC Keith Palmer when he was stabbed by Khalid Masood during the 2017 Westminster terror attack, is a lieutenant colonel with the 77th reservists.
The MP for Bournemouth, who completed his Sandhurst training in 1991 and served in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Kuwait, Germany, Gibraltar and Bosnia, is being actively courted by a number of the key leadership contenders, but he was highly critical of frontrunner Boris Johnson‘s remarks last week in which he said he was prepared to leave the EU without a deal.
Mr Ellwood said: ‘If the Brexit experience to date has taught us anything, it‘s to avoid making promises and drawing red lines you may later regret or cannot honour.
Trust in our party is low. I humbly urge potential premiers – avoid the temptation of playing purely to our base with eye-catching commitments that might box us in and could haunt us at the next General Election.‘
Mr Ellwood has also indicated his support for a second referendum.
In a statement released last night, a spokesman for Mr Ellwood said that the Veterans Minister had not ‘been made aware of anyone having a formal issue or complaint against him, and has not been subject to a formal reprimand.
He can therefore only assume that the source of the allegations you put to him last night emanate from someone with a political agenda‘.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: ‘We take all allegations of misconduct extremely seriously. It would be inappropriate to comment on individual cases.‘