FIVE Tories accepted an £4,000 expenses-paid jolly shooting partridges and pheasants, the Morning Star can reveal today.
Tory MPs Sir Gerald Howarth, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Graham Brady, Karl McCartney and Bill Wiggin spent a day at the Catton Hall estate in Derbyshire last December.
Catton Hall’s website describes a “glorious private estate, owned by the same family for over 600 years.” It says: “Mixed days of pheasant and partridge” shooting are arranged between November and January each year.
The trip was worth £826.73 per person, according to Parliament’s register of interests.
It was paid for by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), which says it aims to promote a “strong and unified voice for shooting.” It also lists “all-party backing for shooting” and “continued opportunity to go shooting” among its “key aims.”
Yesterday the group defended the expense as “part of BASC’s role in informing politicians of all parties about game shooting.”
But it was only Tories who took up the offer, according to the register.
Labour shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett told the Star: “It’s clear that animals are sentient beings, as we are. To turn killing animals into a sport, especially as a free jolly, I think is something that the majority of British people will find repulsive.
“It’s no surprise that Theresa May described the Conservatives as the nasty party.”
Four of the MPs noted in the register that they stayed at the Hoar Cross Hall spa hotel, described as a “Grade II-listed stately home retreat.” Accommodation costs for all five Tories were also covered.
The BASC has also campaigned against banning lead shot. And the Tory government ignored an official report last year recommending the ban on health and environmental grounds.
The Lead Ammunition Group, which carried out the report, found there were at least 10,000 children living at risk of ingesting “sufficient game shot” to cause neuro-developmental harm and illnesses.
Cotswolds Tory candidate Mr Clifton-Brown, who chairs the all-party group on shooting and conservation, has been a leading opponent of the ban.
“The impact would be significant on the current contribution that the shooting community makes to the UK economy and conservation management,” he said in the Commons in 2015.
The Conservative Party did not respond to a request for comment.