The Conservative MP Adam Afriyie has said he will not quit as an MP after being made bankrupt by a court ruling, which found he owed about £1.7m.
Afriyie was pursued by creditors including HMRC for £1m in unpaid tax and Barclays Bank. He asked for more time to sell the family home in order to pay his debts. But the judge ruled Afriyie had had long enough to make arrangements and ordered bankruptcy.
Under parliamentary rules, sitting MPs who are declared bankrupt have do not have to step aside unless a more severe bankruptcy restrictions order is made against them, which can be imposed if the bankrupt refuses to cooperate with the process or is suspected of hiding assets.
In a statement, the Windsor MP said he would stand down at the next election but not trigger a byelection. “This has been ongoing for many years following business failures some time ago. I am ultimately responsible for some of the bank borrowing through personal guarantee. I’ve been trying to sell our home and downsize for some time, but it’s a tough market,” he said.
“It is a stressful time and it’ll be tough for a while, but I’m far from the only person in a difficult position, and I will continue to do my best to support my constituents until the next general election when I’ll be standing down.”
The order was made against Afriyie at an online hearing in the insolvency and companies court on Tuesday by Judge Nicholas Briggs.
Labour sources said they were likely to make the case that it is untenable for a sitting MP to owe so much to HMRC.
The judge was told Afriyie owed about £1m to HMRC and about £700,000 to Barclays and concluded he would not allow more time for Afriyie to sell the property.
“It seems to me there is no evidence of there being any reasonable prospects of paying debts in full,” he said.
Barrister Fiona Whiteside, who represented Barclays, said the bank had “lost patience”, and added: “We have seen no credible evidence that the property will be sold any time soon.”
Afriyie, who has said he will stand down at the next election, was previously a successful entrepreneur after setting up the IT firm Connect Support Services and then co-founding the political information provider DeHavilland. Shortly after he was first elected in 2005, that business, of which he owned 72%, was sold to the publishing giant Emap with his share worth £13m.
He paid £4m for a house in his Windsor constituency in 2008, according to Land Registry records. Connect Support Services went into insolvency in 2017 and it was reported at the time that it had racked up £1.7m of debts with HMRC, which is the lead creditor in Afriyie’s forthcoming bankruptcy case.
Afriyie announced his intention to stand down at the next election over the summer, during the Conservative leadership election. He said: “With Brexit concluded and the fourth leadership election under way, I feel that now it the right time for a new MP to represent our constituency and continue to protect and promote our beautiful area in the years ahead.
“There is no greater honour than to serve your country and your constituents, and I will diligently continue to perform my duties until the next election.”