A NEW FOREST MP has apologised to a female constituent after refusing to wear a face mask at an indoor surgery.

Sir Desmond Swayne, Tory MP for New Forest West, is reported to have had an angry exchange with Liz Connors, who has complained to the Conservative Party and Prime Minister’s office.

Sir Desmond is alleged to have breached guidelines by not wearing a mask inside a Scout hut at Poulner, near Ringwood.

Earlier this year the famously outspoken MP described having to wear a face mask in shops as a "monstrous imposition". But he later appeared to have changed his mind, posting a picture on social media showing him covering his face with a blanket before entering a post office in Bransgore.

Salisbury Journal:

Mrs Connors accused the MP of becoming “rude and aggressive” when they met last Saturday.

She is reported to have said: "Just minutes before, I had been listening to Michael Gove on Radio 4 talking about what a desperate point we were at and everybody had to be careful. But then as I walked in he wasn’t wearing a face mask.

“I said, ‘I’m sorry but I’m not willing to be in a room without you having a face mask on’."

Mrs Conners said the pair had a heated exchange before agreeing to talk outside.

She added: “I came home and I was shaking. You don’t expect when you make an appointment to see your MP to be treated like that.

“The main bit, really, is that he is refusing to abide by the rules his own government laid down.

“I accept he may have his own individual thoughts but he is an MP who is supposed to be representing constituents.”

Mrs Connors said she had gone to the surgery to lobby him for the 40mph limit on Linford Road in Ringwood to be cut to 30mph.

In an email to her Sir Desmond said: "I am sorry to have upset you, please accept my apology."

Referring to her call for a lower speed limit he added: "I will make representations to [Hampshire County Council] highways following our meeting.”

Salisbury Journal:

Speaking later Sir Desmond said: "I cannot comment on any individual encounter; that would breach the confidentiality of my surgery.

“What I can say is that a number of constituents visited my surgery on Saturday. We occupied a very large hall. Only three persons were present at any one time: myself, a district councillor, and a constituent. All proper social distancing was observed.

“Guidance does not require the wearing of masks, but I have no objection to a constituent choosing to wear one.”