Extraordinary claims made by former MP

By Carole Dennett Jun 28, 2024

Former Tory MP, Bob Seely, currently seeking re-election in the West Wight, has a reputation for ignoring questions he finds uncomfortable, and often disregards emails that seek explanations for his more extravagant claims, such as being responsible for various sources of government funding that he has had nothing to do with. However, live radio appearances make it significantly harder to dodge tough questions, and this was evident during his interview on Tuesday with veteran broadcaster, Ian Mac, on community station, Vectis Radio.

In a scathing 25-minute session, ‘Macca’ proved he was no pushover as he compelled Mr. Seely to concede a number of points. Mr. Seely reluctantly admitted he does not own any property on the Isle of Wight, rents out a property he part-owns in London, and all his election literature has been printed by mainland printing companies, which he thought were based in Southampton, but are in London. He didn’t “have a problem with” Rishi Sunak’s widely criticised decision to leave the D-Day commemorations early and also revealed that he has had only one meeting with Isle of Wight Council leader, Phil Jordan, over the past seven months, despite claiming at hustings that he works closely with the council.

Mr Seely’s press release about his support for Liz Truss – still available on his own website

During the interview, Mr. Seely grudgingly apologised on air for breaking Covid laws by attending a social event, following Macca’s poignant revelation that a 98-year-old war veteran family member had died during the pandemic, with only two people allowed to attend her funeral. Mr. Seely also made several surprising statements; he claimed not to have supported Liz Truss becoming Conservative Party leader, despite actively campaigning for her after his initial choice, Penny Mordaunt, was eliminated. Furthermore, he dismissed any problems with the Island’s education system as unrelated to underfunding, claiming that he regularly spoke to teachers, who only raised complaints about the Isle of Wight Council with him. Mr Seely also claimed during the interview that there had been “£48 million capital investment in the NHS on the Island”, apparently forgetting that he had supported £10 million of that sum to be used to build two new 72-bed wards in Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.

A particularly extraordinary claim from Mr. Seely was that, until the Covid pandemic, the cross-Solent ferry companies had been “a friend to the Island” trying to grow the market and bring prices down, but post-Covid “when they changed their attitude, I changed mine”. He added that, after five years, he had produced a report on cross-Solent ferry services because, in order to influence the government, “you have to provide the evidence.” However, in a tape-recorded conversation with Councillor Jonathan Bacon circulating on social media, Mr. Seely claims to have secured £3 million by “threatening to vote against the government.” Government funding decisions are based on need and evidence, and not threats by individual MPs. In any event, when the local government funding settlement was announced in February, the Conservatives held a healthy majority in Parliament, making it unclear what the then MP believed any such threat would achieve. Cllr Bacon has confirmed the tape recording is genuine.

Mr. Seely later stated that he stood by the remarks made during the recorded conversation, which he said had “apparently” been made without his consent, but refused to clarify whether this included his alleged threat to vote against the government. Additionally, another video compilation in circulation contrasts Mr. Seely’s calls for civility in public life during recent hustings with clips of him making extremely unpleasant comments in television appearances about a number of individuals.

You can hear the Vectis Radio recording below

Cllr Jordan said that Mr Seely had failed to turn up to around 28 meetings arranged since last October and has refused to speak to him since it was exposed that he had falsely claimed to have influenced the £2 million a year funding for Ryde Town Board. Mr Seely’s website initially claimed that he alone was responsible for getting the funds, but now claims that he ‘helped secure’ the funding. However official government papers available on-line makes it clear that funds were allocated solely on objective evidence, with no political influence.