‘You disrespected Armed Forces!’ Wallace erupts at three ‘drunk’ MPs on Gibraltar flight

Owen Paterson: MPs vote to overturn suspension

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One of the MPs was reportedly so inebriated that she had to be put in a wheelchair and taken to her hotel from the airport, missing a welcome event put on by the military. Ben Wallace said that the incident, which he branded as disrespectful, put members of the armed forces in a “difficult position”. He said: “This type of behaviour shows a lack of respect for the enduring work of our armed forces.

“The armed forces scheme is an opportunity for both parliamentarians and the military to understand each other.

“This behaviour puts military personnel in a difficult position and risks undermining respect for parliament.”

The other two MPs involved in the incident were the SNP’s David Linden and Drew Hendry. However, the SNP have denied the claims.

Mr Wallace will be writing to both Labour and the SNP to express his “disappointment” over the incident.

According to a report circulated in the Ministry of Defence, seen by the Times, one of the MPs – from the Labour party – was “incapacitated through drink”.

She is reportedly returning to the UK two days ahead of schedule, today, after communication with Labour whips.

A source close to the army, who spoke to the Times, said that the Labour MP was “already visibly pretty drunk getting on the plane.”

They said: “She drank throughout the journey. She was kind of helped off the aircraft but made it through . . . to the baggage area.

“In order to avoid a scene, she was popped on a wheelchair from the baggage area to the transport that was laid on.

“She was then put in the hotel straight away, and given a drink watch through the night.”

They added that the other two SNP MPs were also “drunk”. However, the SNP denies these claims.

The newspaper reported that they were both said to have been “difficult” with airport staff on their outbound trip.

Speaking about the incident, Tory MP James Gray – who is chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for the armed forces – said that the three were “pretty well oiled” by the time they got to the airport.

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Mr Gray said: “These three, as I understand it, were in a BA lounge in Heathrow and made full use of the facilities.”

The trio apparently continued to drink on the flight.

Mr Gray said that he wouldn’t remove the three MPs from the all-party parliamentary group, as the incident occurred on the outbound flight rather than during the event itself.

He said: “If they had been in an officer’s mess at a dinner and got completely drunk, then I have a responsibility for that and I would throw them off the scheme as it were, probably.

“But because they were simply civilians on the way to a visit, what they do in their own time in the BA lounge is a matter for them.”

The MPs, who were part of a group of 15 MPs visiting Gibraltar, were in the presence of a serving major and a retired lieutenant colonel, who were on the flight as “minders”.

The Times reported that they both witnessed the MPs drinking.

The three-day trip had been planned by the all-party parliamentary group for the armed forces to coincide with Armistice Day.

According to unconfirmed reports, on the same trip two Tory MPs had been out drinking until 2am.

Mr Linden and Mr Hendry both managed to attend the welcome event after landing.

In response to the claims, an SNP spokesperson said: “These suggestions are false. Drew Hendry MP and David Linden MP were honoured to be invited to this important event and attended all engagements, including the welcome meeting and dinner shortly after landing.

“Instead of trying to divert attention from the Tory corruption scandal engulfing Westminster, Ben Wallace should be apologising for his role in it, including voting to get Owen Paterson off the hook.”

Meanwhile, Mr Hendry tweeted: “It’s deeply disappointing that Tory MPs have made false claims in a shameless attempt to divert attention from the Tory corruption scandal engulfing Westminster.

“That is a matter for their conscience. I’ll focus on doing my job and respecting our troops as we mark Armistice Day.”

And Mr Linden tweeted: “Incredibly disappointed by what appears to be a bizarre Tory smear campaign in the media tonight but I’ll leave the politics to others.

“Instead, I’ll continue to focus on participating in briefings with service personnel, meetings with local officials, as well as continuing to undertake training exercises and hear first hand from those who serve in the Armed Services here in Gibraltar.”

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