THE future of MP Anne Main has sparked a civil war among St Albans Conservatives.

Chairman Seema Kennedy and her two deputies, Matt Peck and Mary Zambra, asked Mrs Main to step down, and have now called a meeting of the local party’s 300 members on August 13, to vote on her de-selection.

But an opposing faction is backing the MP and trying to remove Mrs Kennedy and Mr Peck from their posts ahead of the crucial vote.

Defying clear advice from the party's regional campaign director that it would be unconstitutional, 33 local Tories, claiming to be the branch's executive committee, met on Thursday, and issued a statement backing Mrs Main and calling for Mr Peck to resign.

The statement was apparently sent from Mrs Kennedy’s Conservative email account, but investigations by the Review have revealed that not only did she not send it herself, but that she was not even at the meeting.

Mr Peck told the Review yesterday (Tuesday): “The MP and her supporters are trying to sabotage the democratic process.”

Charles Bunker, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party in the Eastern Region, said on Monday that both the meeting on Thursday, and another planned for August 12 to discuss Mrs Kennedy's position, were invalid.

“Any decisions made at those two meetings will not be recognised by the Conservative Party,” he said.

Mrs Main, who has claimed about £22,000 a year on expenses for a flat in St Albans, was given a vote of confidence by local Tories at the end of May.

However, Mr Peck said: “We agreed at that meeting that her expenses were reasonable and proportionate, but a week later, at the county council elections, we were destroyed by the Lib Dems all over St Albans.

“We may think she is great, but a significant number of people disagree. We need to consider whether we would do better at the General Election with a different candidate.”

Another local party member, Tim Randall, said: “Personally, I don't approve of her expenses, but all MPs are doing it. However, when it comes to the election the other parties will highlight her claims in their literature and it may well affect how people vote.

“We need to have a vote of the whole membership to consider it.”

According to Mrs Kennedy, she, Mr Peck, Ms Zambra, chairman of the women's section Pat Rosalki, and party officer Chris Baker, agreed Mrs Main should be asked to step down on July 6, and the MP was informed two days later in the presence of regional party chairman, Sir Graham Bright.

In a statement issued on Friday, Mrs Main said: “I consulted individual members of the executive council, and the overwhelming response was that they were completely unaware of Mrs Kennedy’s concerns, that they had not been consulted by Mrs Kennedy, that they remained supportive of me as member of parliament for St Albans, and that there was deep unease about some of the actions of Mrs Kennedy and Mr Peck.”

Mrs Rosalki is now supporting Mrs Main's faction, led by the acting treasurer, Adrian Birchall.

Meanwhile, Tories in Mrs Main's home town of Beaconsfield have threatened to withdraw funding of around £7,000 a year from the St Albans branch if she is de-selected.

Beaconsfield Conservative Association, one of the wealthiest in Britain, makes financial contributions to several branches in less affluent areas including St Albans, which uses the cash to pay its only employee.

An executive council member who declined to be named told the Review: “Anne's conduct has been disgusting. She has tried to derail the democratic process.

“I am now firmly of the view she is not fit to be an MP.”

Mrs Main’ spokesman Tom Jones said she was unable to comment because she is on holiday.