SNP MPs deny drinking heavily on flight to visit UK troops

Defence secretary's allegations described as a 'smear campaign' by the SNP.

SNP MPs deny drinking heavily on flight to visit UK troops Parliament TV

Two SNP MPs have denied that they were drinking heavily during a flight to visit armed forces in Gibraltar.

UK Government defence secretary Ben Wallace made the claims about Drew Hendry and David Linden, as well as Labour MP Charlotte Nichols.

However, the SNP accused the Conservatives of a “smear campaign” to divert attention away from sleaze allegations being levelled at the government.

A senior defence source told the PA news agency that Wallace would be writing to both parties to express his disappointment.

Wallace said: “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 MPs, who were travelling to the British overseas territory to mark Armistice Day, refuted the allegations on social media, while an SNP spokesperson said: “These suggestions are false.”

They added: “Drew Hendry and David Linden 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.”

The trip was co-ordinated by the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme (AFPS), which is run by Conservative MP James Gray. He wasn’t on the flight but said he had heard the trio had “imbibed too much”.

Writing on Twitter, Hendry and Linden described the allegations as “deeply disappointing”.

Hendry said: “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.”

Linden wrote: “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.”

The PA news agency said it understood that Nichols told The Sun newspaper: “Everyone had had a few drinks on the flight.

“The issue for me is the medication I am taking. That affected my tolerance. I had the same amount to drink as the others. I do not know how many drinks I had – I wasn’t counting. It was less than five.”

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