The following statement has been issued by CCHQ:
“Ben Harris-Quinney has been suspended from the Party with immediate effect pending an urgent investigation by the Disciplinary Committee on behalf of the Board. The investigation will also cover the circumstances in which he was able to rejoin his local Association on 5th May 2015 having ceased to be a member since April 2013, and stand as a council candidate on behalf of Party.” [sic]
It is not yet clear which of the various issues swirling around Harris-Quincey has led to his suspension – be it his very public support for voting UKIP at the General Election, the recently released tape of him speaking at an anti-gay rights conference in Moscow or some other topic (or a combination of more than one). Our very own Iain Dale did mention in his diary this morning that “I feel a complaint to the Party’s ethics committee coming on…”
That he has been suspended does at least clarify the confused question of whether he is a member of the Conservative Party or not. He told Andrew Neil on the Daily Politics that he was not shortly before the election, then a few days later Dale pointed out he had been elected as a Tory councillor, a position requiring party membership. Last week Sir Oliver Heald MP told his local newspaper that Harris-Quincey was a member of the local association and had been selected “in accordance with the Conservative Party’s procedures”, which seems to imply he was also a member when nominated as a candidate.
So now we know he is a member after all – though for how long remains to be seen.