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Euro-Lawmaker Suspended for Drugs

February 1, 1999

LONDON (AP) _ The opposition Conservative Party on Sunday suspended a European Parliament lawmaker who was fined by customs for bringing marijuana and homosexual pornography into Britain.

Tom Spencer, 50, a member of the Conservative group in the European Union’s parliament, based in Strasbourg, France, paid $900 to customs in an out-of-court settlement after pornographic videos, magazines and a small amount of marijuana were found in his briefcase during a routine check at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Such settlements are usually confidential and mean individuals do not have to appear in court. However, news of the fine was leaked to newspapers at the weekend.

Spencer said he would not stand for re-election to the European Parliament in June, adding that he would understand if the Tories decided to drop him.

``I am gay, I have always been gay,″ Spencer told reporters, standing alongside his wife, Elizabeth, outside their home in Churt, Surrey, 40 miles west of London.

``Part of the way we run our lives is that occasionally I would go away for a weekend,″ he said.

Spencer said he acquired the videos and marijuana during a weekend in Amsterdam. He absent-mindedly left them in his briefcase when he returned to London after taking part in a Jan. 14 debate in Strasbourg on fraud at the EU’s headquarters in Brussels.

``My actions were a moment of astonishing stupidity,″ added Spencer, chairman of the foreign affairs security committee in the European Parliament.

In London, Conservative Party headquarters announced the suspension of Spencer pending an inquiry by its ethics committee. ``We hope for a decision shortly,″ the party said in a statement.

Spencer’s wife said she had known he was homosexual since they first met at university.

The couple have been married for 19 years and have two daughters. She has another daughter by a previous marriage.

``We believed we could make it work _ and I have to say, I believe we have,″ she said.

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