MP Nadine, a mystery over her marriage and investors with VERY awkward questions for her 'husband'
00:00 GMT, 8 December 2012
Home sweet home: MP Nadine Dorries with the man she called her husband Paul at Woolstaplers Hall, Chiping Campden
Back in 2010, when Nadine Dorries was a little-known Conservative politician, she made an impassioned speech in Parliament. It was about malpractice and corruption in the City.
This is the crux of what she told the House of Commons that day: ‘Many people work hard all their lives and save hard.
'Some people may run corner shops or work as self-employed plumbers and save a deal of money, and a time comes in their life when they realise that they want to use that money for their pension or to help them through their later years, so they look to make investments with that money.
‘Some people will use organisations such as investment banks and stockbroker firms, and I want to talk about a particular stockbroking firm with which a number of people decided to invest their life savings. The company took these people’s life savings and within weeks it had all gone.’
The company, Mrs Dorries revealed, was WorldSpreads, based in the Square Mile, which specialised in high-risk spread-betting on the financial markets. It was not the vagaries of the market, though, that had cost investors their ‘life savings’, but the ‘corrupt dealings’ of WorldSpreads.
‘I hope that, as a result of highlighting it today, some steps might be taken towards providing justice and to returning some of those people’s money to them,’ said the MP for Mid-Bedfordshire.
From the speech, Mrs Dorries, 55, comes across as a crusading MP, someone who was prepared to expose injustice and was in touch with the real world.
But there was one thing — or, rather, one person — Mrs Dorries failed to mention when she rose to her feet in the Commons to highlight the scandal.
This was financial adviser Paul Dorries. Mr Dorries is the father of Mrs Dorries’s three children, and the man she describes as her former husband. They separated in around 2007.
It appears that shortly after their split, 59-year-old Mr Dorries began introducing the very investors Mrs Dorries later referred to in her speech to WorldSpreads, for which he was to receive commission.
Mr Dorries persuaded them to open accounts and is said to have helped them fill in their application forms. They lost tens of thousands of pounds.
Celebrity reject: Nadine Dorries was the first contestant to be voted off I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here 2012
The Mid Bedfordshire MP claimed she wanted to use her appearance on I'm A Celebrity to discuss political issues in front of a TV audience of millions
Tory strategists were appalled at pictures of Mr Dorries sunbathing at a time when constituents are struggling to make ends meet back home in Britain
Shares in WorldSpreads, which is now in administration, were suspended earlier this year and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) was called in to examine ‘possible financial irregularities’.
Mr Dorries may well have been acting in good faith when he recommended WorldSpreads as an investment, and it is certainly true that he sees himself as another WorldSpreads victim.
But given that he actually introduced some of these victims to WorldSpreads, Nadine Dorries’s speech in the Commons was greeted with a mixture of incredulity and outrage by her ex-husband’s clients.
Why hadn’t she mentioned the involvement of Mr Dorries, they demanded to know, when they contacted her parliamentary office They did not receive an answer from her.
Dorries, pictured arriving back at Heathrow Airport after her eviction from 'I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here', has spoken in the commons of corrupt city dealing
All week, the Mail has also been trying to get Mrs Dorries to answer the same question. But she failed to respond to our emails and phone calls to her Westminster office.
Instead, she went on the attack on Twitter: ‘If another journalist visits my home, members of my family, their homes or my office, I will inform the police,’ she declared in one outburst. ‘This is harassment.’ In fact, the only other member of her family who has been approached by us is Mr Dorries.
Harassment Or legitimate journalistic question
Mrs Dorries, who has been an MP since 2005, did finally contact us on Thursday afternoon, but only to confirm that she would ‘not be commenting’ on the matter. Mr Dorries, for his part, denies any wrong-doing.
In a letter to representatives of an investor, he said he was the victim of ‘wild and unfounded allegations’, and that he also had ‘recordings of senior WorldSpreads officials admitting fraud and attempting to conceal this fraud’.
Mrs Dorries’s speech, of course, supports that version of events (indeed, her speech, which also refers to damning ‘recordings’, is remarkably similar to Mr Dorries’s letter).
Paul Dorries is the father of her three daughters and they had only recently split up — after more than 20 years together — when the WorldSpreads debacle began to unfold.
But that is not the only episode which has led to Mr Dorries being criticised.
He not only advised one woman, who lives in Surrey, to open an account with WorldSpreads (she and her lawyer say she lost 500,000, which was later recouped from the company in an out-of-court settlement) but also to invest a further 200,000 in an internet venture based on the concept of Facebook, a company called TenTenGo.
It was the ‘brainchild’ of several of Mr Dorries’s associates, but it never got off the ground. The woman, however, did not receive her 200,000 stake back. She took legal action against Mr Dorries and, last year, obtained a court judgment against him for the entire 200,000. She says Mr Dorries has still not repaid her.
Another woman, a widowed race-horse owner from Gloucestershire, lost the 50,000 she put into TenTenGo, which was dissolved. And Mr Dorries has been ordered to pay a third woman, a teacher, nearly 15,000 following a court judgment against him.
Mr Dorries says he, too, lost money when the project failed. But, like Mrs Dorries, he seemed reluctant to talk to us when given the opportunity to do so.
When one of our reporters called at Mr Dorries’s flat in Stratford-upon-Avon a few days ago, he asked the person who opened the door if he was Mr Dorries. ‘Yes, and who are you’, the man replied. When told that he was from the Mail, the man said: ‘I’m not him [Paul Dorries] but I can pass your details on [to him].’ Later, when we rung the number we had been given for Mr Dorries’s mobile phone, the person who answered hung up.
Some of the people who had dealings with Mr Dorries have now agreed to speak about what happened for the first time. They came forward after Mrs Dorries’s decision to become a contestant on ITV’s reality show, I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here, which has resulted in her suspension from the Conservative Party.
The outspoken MP failed to mention that her husband was connected to the company called WorldSpreads while discussing them in the Commons
Dorries, pictured on Have I Got News For You, declined to comment on the matter
Politics aside, Nadine Dorries’s personal life, which includes an affair with a friend’s husband, makes for interesting reading. One entry in her Conservative Party biography is particularly intriguing. It is for 1984, the year, so the biography states, she was married to Paul Dorries (they’d met in Liverpool when she was 17).
But our research has been unable to unearth any trace of a marriage certificate in this country. Some of Mrs Dorries’s relatives, we have been told, were surprised never to have been shown wedding photographs of the happy couple.
Nevertheless, the two remained together for more than two decades, and went on to run a number of businesses.
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'Poetic licence': Nadine Dorries has previously admitted 70 per cent of her blog is 'fiction'
Their portfolio, at one time or another, included a seafront apartment in South Africa, included properties in Chipping Campden High Street in the Cotswolds. They ran a bed-and-breakfast from one of them.
They also took on a shop, Ye Old Chocolate Box, in the village of Prestbury in Cheshire, renowned for its high-quality china, cards, hampers, home-made confectionery, and tea-rooms, which Mrs Dorries promptly transformed into the Gorgeous Nail and Beauty boutique, painting the mock Tudor frontage bright pink in the process, much to the consternation of locals.
Back in Chipping Campden, where Paul and Nadine — the Dorrieses — lived together until 2007, they held lavish parties at their home, Woolstaplers Hall, a Grade-1 listed building.
But behind the scenes, there appear to have been financial issues. The South African apartment in Port St Francis, situated in a gated complex with a private marina and views over the Indian Ocean, was purchased in 2005 with a mortgage of 1,382,500 rand (just over 113,000).
Two years later, the bank began repossession proceedings. The couple were issued with summonses to appear in court. The bank was granted possession of the apartment, and it was later sold for more than the couple owed.
Not long afterwards they sold Woolstaplers Hall for 860,000 and, after telling her local Conservative Association, Mrs Dorries announced on her website they were separating.
‘Myself and Paul,’ she said, ‘are at entirely different stages of our life and have agreed to an amicable divorce.’
In order to agree to an amicable divorce, you have to be married. But just as we could not find any trace of a marriage certificate using the obvious search terms, we could find no record of their divorce, either, in the Central Index of Decree Absolutes at the Principal Registry of the Family Division in London.
‘The system holds all the details of divorces from across England and Wales,’ explained Paul Jarvis, family administration branch manager. ‘If they were divorced, or had just started the action, it would have come on the system.’
It would not be the only time that what Mrs Dorries said on her blog has come under scrutiny.
In 2010, the MPs’ standards watchdog criticised her blog for being misleading about how much time she spent in her constituency.
Mrs Dorries mounted an astonishing defence: ‘My blog is 70 per cent fiction and 30 per cent fact. It is written as a tool to enable my constituents to know me better and to reassure them of my commitment to Mid-Bedfordshire. I rely heavily on poetic licence.’
After they split up, Mr Dorries introduced people to WorldSpreads. One way he would find potential clients was through a psychic consultant, who was reading tarot cards when they first met at a psychic fair in the Cotswolds.
The psychic was approached by Mr Dorries, he says, who came armed with a list of companies, then asked him which ones would be successful. ‘I pointed out about 20.’ Mr Dorries was delighted with the results, apparently, and came back to see him.
The two became friends and, to cut a long story short, the psychic, who asked not to be identified, agreed to put him in touch with his clientele. The psychic insists he acted in good faith, and did not accept any money. He says he made up to 30 introductions for Mr Dorries.
Award winner: George Osborne, right, presents Nadine Dorries with the 'Readers' Representative' award at the Spectator Magazine and Threadneedle Parliamentarian of The Year Awards in 2008
At work: Nadine Dorries was with her husband for 20 years and they are still friends today
Among them was the woman from Surrey we
mentioned earlier. We shall call her Susan. She is 49, with two grown-up
children. Her husband works in construction. The couple had just sold a
property for 1.3 million, and were planning to start a new business,
until Peter Dorries came to see her in April 2007.
He was charming, producing a dossier containing facts and figures and graphs. Susan agreed to invest almost the entire profits from the house sale — yes, 1 million — into an account with WorldSpreads.
‘I know it’s hard to believe, and I feel very foolish now,’ she says.
Spread betting on shares, commodities or currencies works like this. If, for example, you bet 10 per point that the market index will rise, and it gains 25 points, you would make 250 (10 x 25 points). But if it falls 40 points, you would lose 400 (10 x 40 points).
Nadine Dorries' former 'husband' Paul also claims to be a victim of WorldSpreads
Months later, after Susan and her husband had returned from a holiday abroad, an envelope from WorldSpreads was waiting for them on the doormat. Inside was a statement for her WorldSpreads account.
‘I opened it,’ she said, ‘and realised it was nearly 500,000 down. I just became hysterical.’
She rang Mr Dorries and he immediately came round to see her. She says he assured her that there must be some mistake, that something must have gone wrong with the WorldSpreads computer. But there was no mistake. She and her husband had just lost a fortune. WorldSpreads agreed to pay them back money in an out-of-court settlement. Yet that is not the end the story.
Even as Susan was engaged in legal action against WorldSpreads, she continued to deal with Mr Dorries. She had also given him 200,000 to invest in an internet company in which she thought Mr Dorries had also invested 500,000, and which she believed had been independently valued at 5 million.
‘I kept on ringing him to ask him if everything was OK and he kept assuring me that it was,’ Susan recalled.
The company in which she had bought shares was wound up. Susan sued Mr Dorries for 200,000. He was ordered to pay her the money — plus costs — following a High Court judgment in February 2011.
A retired race-horse owner from Gloucestershire, who is in her 60s, also lost the 50,000 she invested in the same venture. She said: ‘It broke me. I was so ill after everything that happened.’
She also had to battle to get back 25,000 from WorldSpreads. A settlement was agreed in March 2010. It must be said that we have seen no evidence that Mr Dorries behaved with impropriety. As we have said, he sees himself as a victim, too.
Nadine Dorries, who spent more than 20 years of her life with him — they are still apparently close today — blamed the management at WorldSpreads, a rogue trader at the company, and the Financial Services Authority for failing to regulate WorldSpreads effectively . . . everyone, apart from the man she calls her former husband.
But even if he was a victim, surely she should have mentioned his involvement in the company when she made the speech to Parliament