A JUDGE with aspirations to become an MP has dismissed claims that he urged fellow Conservative Party members not to readopt Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh as their candidate for the next general election.

Edward Legard, who was defeated as Tory candidate for Darlington at the last general election, said he wanted to set the record straight over an open letter sent to newspapers alleging that Miss McIntosh had failed to deliver on promises made to constituency association members.

The letter was sent as ballot papers were dispatched to all 560 association members to decide if the chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee should be readopted as the party's constituency candidate.

Mr Legard said his name had appeared on an email document attached to the letter signed by Thirsk and Malton constituency association members George Winn-Darley and Victor Buchanan, as a draft had been sent to his Durham University student son, Oliver.

Mr Legard said he had given his son, who is chairman of the constituency’s Conservative Future group, a laptop which remained registered to him, and his son had used it to reply to the draft letter.

Edward legard, a Ryedale councillor, said: “It is no secret that I am on the national candidates list [for prospective Conservative MPs], but I do not know what action I would take if Anne did not win.

“I haven’t even declared my hand, let alone publicly state my views, which the letter does not reflect.”

Peter Steveney, chairman of the association, said: “Any suggestion there is a preferred candidate, or indeed any candidate, waiting in the wings should Anne McIntosh not be automatically readopted, is wholly untrue.

“If Anne McIntosh fails to win the vote, we will have an open selection. As Thirsk and Malton is, or should be, one of the nations' safest Conservative seats, hundreds of candidates can be expected to apply.”