Aidan Burley: I did not doze during Auschwitz talk
Tory MP Aidan Burley is strongly deniying a claim on Twitter that he was “texting and dozing” during a lecture by a Holocaust survivor at Auschwitz.
It's a horrible allegation and not corroborated. A friend of Burley says he listened with sombre attention to the 90-minute talk but conceded he may have “answered an important message from London” by text at one point.
Mr Burley was sacked as aide to Transport Secretary Justine Greening last month after footage emerged of him at a stag party where guests toasted the Third Reich and one diner dressed as an SS officer. His pilgrimage to the former Nazi death camp in Poland, made at his own expense this week, was intended to rebuild his reputation and career. He has also sent a long letter of apology to The Jewish Chronicle.
Today's claims were made on Twitter by Matthew Parkinson, who tweeted this morning: “aidan Burley seen texting and dozing whilst listening to an concentration camp survivor”. When asked for more details by the eagle eyed Paul Waugh he added in another tweet: “we was in a talk with a Auschwitz survivor and he came in to it, sat there texting and dozing”.
The allegation of dozing off was described as “malicious and false” by a friend of Mr Burley, insisted the MP had listened to the talk with rapt attention. But on the charge of texting the friend said: “It is not impossible that during a 90 minute talk he briefly answered an urgent message from London.”
Burley's friend suggested the allegations were politically motivated. “This is a learning trip for Aidan who has found it a very solemn and humbling experience. It is a great shame that people are using it as a chance to attack him again. He was sitting at the back with a senior official of a Holocaust organisation. Some people behaved aggressively towards him and they must have spent the entire time watching him instead of listening to the lecture.”
Mr Burley is awaiting a verdict from David Cameron on whether he should be disciplined more strongly for the stag party. This row makes it harder for Mr Cameron to say the MP has learned his lessons.
follow me on Twitter @JoeMurphyLondon