Croydon South’s MP and a former Downing Street special adviser have been caught breaking their own government’s rules. KEN LEE reports
Chris Philp, the Conservative MP for Croydon South, and arch-careerist Mario Creatura, one of the Town Hall’s top Tories, have been accused of putting their personal political campaigning ahead of the health of the public, after they spent the weekend breaking the government’s covid-19 restrictions.
Croydon Tories even boasted about campaigning in Purley on Saturday “despite the C-19 lockdown”, publishing a report on their own website with photographic evidence of the MP in what appears to be a clear breach of the coronavirus regulations and Boris Johnson’s “Rule of Six”.
This alleged law-breaking by Philp, a junior minister in the law-setting Home Office department, came seven days after the whole of Croydon, including Purley, had been placed in Tier 2, the “High” category of covid-19 restrictions. These specifically forbid more than six people from gathering outdoors, and still requires people to keep at least two metres distant to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Ignoring the safety of passers-by, many of whom will be his own constituents, Philp and Conservative councillors Ian Parker and Margaret Bird are clearly shown in the picture, none wearing masks and in conversation with members of the public but less than the required two metres distant.
Behind Philp’s street stall is a group of at least eight people gathered together. Some have masks on; most do not.
The cheery little report about Philp’s monthly engagement session on the Croydon Conservatives’ website suggests that it might even have been a Trumpian “super-spreader” event: “There was a steady stream of local residents”, they said, something which may have only increased the possibility of spreading the deadly virus, at a time when the R-rate in London has already gone above 1.3.
The Tory website relates, “For Chris the main issues were C-19 lockdown and children’s free school meals.”
Unmentioned is that last week, millionaire businessman Philp had, along with the majority of his Tory mates in parliament, voted against providing free meals for the poor and most vulnerable children over the October half-term week. Fortunately for those youngsters living in Philp’s Croydon South constituency, the Labour-run local council has stepped in with a meal voucher scheme for this week.
While Philp was spreading misery, and perhaps even a deadly virus, in Purley, a few miles away in Bookham in Surrey, Creatura was attempting to make friends and influence people. And like Philp, the Coulsdon councillor was doing nothing to uphold the social distancing rules intended to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.
Creatura is the former parliamentary aide to “Lord” Gavin Barwell who was later handed a plum job as milk monitor at No10 Downing Street. His political ambitions were dented at last December’s General Election, when he was well-beaten when the Tory candidate in Croydon Central.
But there seems a strong chance that Creatura still fancies his chances of getting elected to parliament, which may explain why he was grinning inanely at the good people, and Tory activists, of Mole Valley – a safe Conservative seat (12,000 majority) held by the New Zealand dentist, “Sir” Paul Beresford, another Tory who managed to lose the Croydon Central seat in his time, and who, at the age of 74, would seem unlikely to contest another General Election.
At least, that must be what Creatura is hoping.
“Great to be out today lending a hand to [Mole Valley Conservatives],” the twit tweeted, “working with hardworking local councillors to get their brilliant Bookham candidates elected next year!”
It is the kind of virtue signalling that local selection committees take into accout when choosing a prospective parliamentary candidate. At least, that must be what Creatura is hoping.
The trouble with it all was that Creatura exposed himself as breaking the Rule of Six, his tweeted pictures showing at least seven people present in the group. And as Creatura lives in Croydon – a Tier 2 area at the time – he had travelled into a part of Surrey with a lower covid alert level, which can hardly be ideal.
Inside Croydon approached Philp seeking his explanation for the clear breaching of the coronavirus rules, but the MP had not responded by the time of publication.
“It’s typical,” said one unimpressed Croydon constituent. “It’s the Dominic Cummings thing all over again – one rule for them, another rule for us. Why won’t the police fine them?”
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