Recently-appointed energy minister John Hayes yesterday said no meeting between himself and two anti-windfarm politicians accused of manipulating the Corby by-election campaign had ever taken place.
The local MP told the Spalding Guardian he frequently meets as a colleague the manager of the Conservative campaign for Corby, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, who was secretly filmed telling an undercover reporter how he had helped climate-change sceptic James Delingpole mount a one-issue anti-wind farm candidacy against the official Tory candidate.
Delingpole withdrew before paying a deposit two weeks ago, the day after John Hayes’ controversial Enough is Enough statement about the proliferation of wind farms was splashed across the front pages of national papers, saying his point was made and announcing his support for his Tory rival candidate.
Heaton-Harris, whose immediate resignation was being called for yesterday, can be heard on the film, recorded at the Tory conference and screened since yesterday on the Greenpeace website, saying: “Next week hopefully John Hayes, James Delingpole and I will have a meeting somewhere.”
Mr Hayes said: “There was no meeting planned or scheduled. I’ve never met James Delingpole privately or publicly.”
In response to Heaton-Harris’ filmed claim that the timing of the articles’ publication and Delingpole’s pulling out of the race was “contrived”, Mr Hayes said: “There was nothing contrived about it.
“I have held these views on onshore windfarms for a long time and if my views are sufficiently persuasive to people in Corby I shall be very pleased.”