Labour MP needed a wheelchair after ‘drinking heavily’ on flight to visit troops

The Defence Secretary is to complain to the leaders of Labour and the SNP after three MPs were "drinking heavily" on their way to an official visit to Gibraltar.

Ben Wallace said the MPs showed “a lack of respect for the enduring work of our Armed Forces” and risked “undermining respect for Parliament” after drinking on a plane carrying MPs, defence staff and members of the public.

Charlotte Nichols, a Labour MP, and the SNP MPs David Linden and Drew Hendry were said to have been drinking before and during the British Airways flight from Heathrow to Gibraltar on Tuesday.

It is claimed that when the flight landed, Ms Nichols required a wheelchair to get from the baggage reclaim to a military minibus, while Mr Linden and Mr Hendry were “lairy” and “rude” when their Covid passes did not work at the airport gates.

The three MPs are among 14 on the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, which invites politicians to see the work of the British military in action.

MPs involved in the scheme are visiting Gibraltar this week to see the work of all three services in the territory.

Mr Wallace will now write to the leaders of Labour and the SNP to complain about the MPs’ behaviour, after MoD bosses heard reports of the MPs’ conduct from military escorts on the flight.

SNP MPs Drew Hendry and David Linden

‘Lack of respect for the Armed Forces’

“This type of behaviour shows a lack of respect for the enduring work of our armed forces,” he said on Wednesday.

“The Armed Forces scheme is an opportunity for both parliamentarians and the military to understand each other. This behaviour puts military personnel in a difficult position and risks undermining respect for Parliament.”

A defence source described how the MPs were “quite clearly drunk when they were checking in and going through the process of boarding”, then “drank heavily on the plane”.

Ms Nichols became “incapacitated through drink on the flight across to Gibraltar to the point where she had to be moved to the transport by wheelchair”, a source said.

It was also claimed Mr Linden and Mr Hendry were “drunk and rude and kicked up a fuss” in the airport when their Covid passports did not work. Military staff were forced to intervene to calm the SNP MPs down, it was claimed.

“That’s the point where our guy intervened to try and take control of the situation, rather than being the amenable host,” a source said.

Mr Linden and Mr Hendry then continued to a welcome dinner for the MPs, but Ms Nichols was taken to a hotel “for her own safety”.

She has not continued with the trip, which involved a meeting with the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, on Tuesday morning. She flew back to London on Tuesday night.

MPs deny being drunk on plane

All three MPs said they were not drunk on the plane, but did not deny that they had been drinking.

An SNP spokesperson said: "These suggestions are inaccurate. Drew Hendry MP and David Linden MP were honoured to be invited to this important event and attended all engagements, including the welcome meeting and dinner shortly after landing.

"Instead of trying to divert attention from the Tory corruption scandal engulfing Westminster, Ben Wallace should be apologising for his role in it, including voting to get Owen Paterson off the hook."

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