PRIVATE investigators tricked senior figures in the Huntingdon Constituency Conservative Association into indiscreet comments about their MP, Jonathan Djanogly, according to a national newspaper.

PRIVATE investigators tricked senior figures in the Huntingdon Constituency Conservative Association into indiscreet comments about their MP, Jonathan Djanogly, according to a national newspaper.

The Daily Telegraph claims the MP, who is now Justice Minister, hired private investigators more than a year ago in a bid to discover the source of leaks about his expenses claims.

Among those approached by investigators claiming to be researching a newspaper article were the party's then agent, Sir Peter Brown, who also acted for Mr Djanogly's predecessor in the seat, former Prime Minister Sir John Major, and Derek Holley, former leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, who stood down in December 2006.

The investigation took place at a time when emotion in the local party was running high. Many die-hard Tories believed Mr Djanogly should stand down immediately - he was nonetheless re-elected in May this year with a majority comparable to that he achieved in 2005 - and others strongly backing him and his record.

In a statement Mr Djanogly said: "Following a series of malicious allegations made against me in newspapers last year, I felt I had to act to find out who was spreading these untrue stories.

"I instructed a firm of private investigators to try to find out the source of these stories because I was extremely upset that my private family life had been invaded.

"A report of their investigation was prepared and sent to me on a confidential basis and I am very disappointed to see the report released publicly without my consent.

"I would never have contemplated condoning anything unlawful and dishonest in the investigations, and the investigators have assured me that their inquiries were carried out in an entirely lawful manner," he added.

"I am sorry if some people judge that I made a mistake, with hindsight I can see that I may have over-reacted, but I was being subjected to very malicious, anonymous attacks on my family.

"I paid for the cost of the investigation myself and did not claim it back on parliamentary expenses."