Boris Johnson's girlfriend quit her job at Tory HQ just months after being accused of abusing her expenses to the tune of thousands of pounds.
Carrie Symonds, 31, was asked to leave her £80,000-a-year post as director of communications after party chiefs said her performance was poor.
They had previously challenged her over her expenses. A source claims she was accused of:
- Costing the Tory party thousands of pounds in unauthorised expenses;
- Secretly booking cabs in the names of junior staff to disguise the fact they were for her;
- Using taxis for free travel home and to bars and restaurants to meet friends, even when off-duty;
- Failing to show up for work at key times or lead her team properly.
Officials say they were shocked to see photos on Instagram of Miss Symonds in Morocco on holiday with colleagues, reportedly leaving her 30th birthday and criticism was ridiculous because a party chief was present.
Mick Davis, Tory treasurer and chief executive, reportedly tried several times to remove Miss Symonds but was rebuffed following protests by her powerful allies in the party. Backed by party chairman Brandon Lewis, Sir Mick eventually asked her to resign last summer.
Miss Symonds reportedly demanded a six-month payoff – £40,000 – and was eventually given £20,000. Both sides signed a non-disclosure agreement to keep the circumstances secret.
Friends of Miss Symonds claim she was ousted for taking time off last year to campaign against the decision to grant early parole to black cab rapist John Worboys. She was drugged by him in 2007, when she was 19.
But Tory party insiders insist she had abused her work expenses and was asked to leave because she was not doing her job properly.
Tory insiders insist Carrie (pictured on holiday) abused her expenses and was asked to leave because she was not doing her job properly
A close friend of Miss Symonds said last night: 'This nonsense is a politically motivated smear by opponents of Brexit. Carrie is grateful for all the support she received while successfully campaigning against the release of serial rapist John Worboys during her time at CCHQ.
'A year later in a leadership contest it seems she is now the latest victim of Tory infighting with unnamed sources trying to hurt her simply because she is with Boris.'
The allegations concerning the taxi expenses centre on the party's account with a well-known minicab company.
Miss Symonds and some other staff had a password enabling them to book a taxi on account. Sources claim she disguised the number of cabs she was using by booking them in the names of junior employees without telling them.
She reportedly used the system to enjoy free car rides to her home, bars, restaurants and other locations, including when she was not on duty.
'It came to a head when someone questioned why junior staff were taking so many cabs, including late at night and weekends,' said the source. 'The junior staff didn't know and were worried they would get into trouble.'
Miss Symonds was allegedly reprimanded more than once by party chiefs and resigned in August 2018.
Weeks later her relationship with married Mr Johnson became public knowledge.
Tory bosses are adamant her relationship with Mr Johnson, a fierce critic of Mrs May, had nothing to do with her departure. Miss Symonds was made head of the Tory 'spin machine' in 2017 following Mrs May's botched general election.
She is expected to move into No 10 later this month if, as expected, Mr Johnson wins the Tory leadership contest.
Opinion in senior party circles is sharply divided over her suitability to be Downing Street's 'First Lady'.
The issue surfaced last month when police were called to Miss Symonds' flat after neighbours heard her and Mr Johnson having a furious row.
Cherie Blair and Samantha Cameron, who occupied the role in the past, had their own taxpayer-funded staff, enabling them to promote their favourite causes and hold Downing Street receptions.
Boris, 55, is pictured with girlfriend Carrie, 31
One of Miss Symonds' most vocal cheerleaders is her friend Nimco Ali, who campaigns against female genital mutilation.
Miss Symonds has been credited with a dramatic improvement in her boyfriend's political and personal image. He has lost weight, tamed his unruly blond hair and made fewer gaffes.
But she has many critics, including some inside the Johnson camp. One said: 'Carrie is seen by some as divisive and manipulative. She has to find a proper role of her own and not piggyback on Boris.'
Another added: 'She can be rude, undermine you and get others to do her work while taking the credit.
'Everyone bent over backwards to be sensitive towards her because of her Worboys ordeal. But it did not justify aspects of her behaviour. She was viewed as untouchable.'
But an ally of Miss Symonds who worked with her at Tory HQ said: 'She was a great boss and very good at promoting young women.
'It is awful that some people are attacking her just because she is dating the frontrunner in the leadership contest.'
Another friend said: 'Carrie is brilliant. She revitalised CCHQ as director of communications and worked incredibly hard to improve the party's campaigning on issues like animal welfare and the environment.
'Those suggesting otherwise are clearly trying to damage her as part of the leadership campaign.'