The Conservative Party has accused its political opponents of a “smear” after it emerged that Liam Fox has links with an insurance broker that sells private medical insurance. Fox, the shadow health secretary, receives contributions to the running of his political
office from Michael Batt, a director of Cornwall brokers Newhall Insurance Services.
The Conservative Party manifesto for the coming election commits the party to abolishing tax on private health schemes provided by employers. Assuming Fox is re-elected, both Labour and the Liberal Democrats intend to complain to Elizabeth Filkin, the parliamentary commissioner for standards.
A Labour Party spokesman added: “Once again, we have an example of how the Tories' policies are determined by their (few) financial backers. The Tories can't get away from sleaze.”
Fox, MP for the Woodspring constituency in Somerset, had a majority of more than 7,000 at the last election.
Fox's entry in the Register of Members' Interests under sponsorship or financial or material support lists simply: “Contributions to staffing of running of private office from Cllr Michael Batt of Amersham.”
It does not disclose Batt's connection with Newhall Insurance Services. A spokesman for the Conservative Party said of the link between Fox and Batt: “It is a baseless smear.”
However, he said Fox would be perfectly happy to answer any allegations put to the standards commissioner. The spokesman did not know the origin of the allegations but presumed it came from one of the other political parties.
Newhall Insurance Services has confirmed that Batt is a director of the company and that the company does sell health insurance.