A HENDON MP’s decision to remain on holiday in the aftermath of the London riots was “outrageous”, according to his predecessor.
Conservative Matthew Offord is in Belize and opted not to cut the trip short following the violence that hit London earlier this month.
He said he is not just on holiday but is also doing Parliamentary business helping the country prepare for hurricane season, as well as working with coastguards fighting the drugs trade and terrorism.
But his Labour predecessor Andrew Dismore slammed the decision, asking what expertise Mr Offord can bring the people of Belize in any of those fields.
He told the Times-Series he faced a similar dilemma when promising footballer Kiyan Prince, 15, was stabbed to death outside the London Academy, in Edgware.
He said: “I think it’s outrageous frankly. I think it’s a very bad decision. The nearest thing that affected me like that was when Kiyan Prince was murdered.
“That was just before a February recess. I was supposed to be leading a parliamentary delegation to the Caribbean that week.
“I pulled out because I thought it would be inappropriate to go when that was going on in Edgware. It’s one of the problems you get as an MP.
“You are always at risk of going back. It’s part of your public duties.”
Mr Offord flew out to Belize for a diving holiday on Saturday, August 6, the morning before a protest over the shooting by police of Mark Duggan in Tottenham turned violent.
Riots quickly spread and Barnet was hit by civil unrest the following Monday.
There was an emergency session of Parliament on the Thursday, which Mr Offord was given permission to miss by party whips.
But he opted to finish the trip even though it will continue until Saturday and issued a message to residents on his website.
Mr Offord’s local Conservative Party Association chairman Councillor Hugh Rayner initially said it was “unfortunate” he did not have the opportunity to talk to people in the community.
But he said he backed the MP’s judgement.
In a letter to the Times-Series this week Cllr Rayner said: “If he had been able to return – several days after the events and at huge cost to the taxpayer – there would have been little that he, or indeed any backbench MP, could do except express sympathy, which would no doubt have been welcome, but would have done little in practical terms to help local residents.”
He added: “Given all the circumstances I fully support Matthew’s decision not to return.”