'Nadine Dorries is talking nonsense - I never had an affair with her new lover's wife,' says riverboat captain accused of fling

Pub lunches: Riverboat captain Stephen Coad described Nadine Dorries' claim as nonsense

Pub lunches: Riverboat captain Stephen Coad described Nadine Dorries' claim as nonsense

Nadine Dorries was effectively branded a liar last night after a man she had accused of adultery furiously denied the claim.

The Tory MP caused outrage last week by attempting to justify her affair with John Butler by saying that he had been ‘crushed’ by his wife Rachael’s ‘relationship’ with an Australian riverboat captain.

But last night the captain, Stephen Coad, described Ms Dorries’ claim as nonsense – and criticised ‘aggressive’ Mr Butler for suggesting he could ‘have’ his wife.

When told that Ms Dorries, 53, had written a lurid account of Mr Butler’s marriage difficulties in last week’s Mail on Sunday – including the claim that Mrs Butler had an adulterous relationship with him – Mr Coad, 59, said: ‘Oh, she did, did she? That is absolutely not true.’ 

He added that Mr Butler had left him an angry answerphone message saying: ‘If you want her [Rachael] you can have her. I’ll pack up her stuff and send her over.’

Ms Dorries caused a sensation at Westminster – and alarm in Tory high command – by explaining in intimate detail why she had started seeing Mr Butler, 56.

The Mid-Bedfordshire MP wrote that her relationship with Mr Butler, a committed Christian and a neighbour for 11 years, began at Christmas within days of his marriage break-up when she saw him ‘framed in the light’ of a local pub.

Nadine Dorries MP and John Butler

Dreadful drama: Nadine Dorries MP and John Butler out walking in the countryside. Tory MPs have called the affair 'bizarre'

Ms Dorries claimed that her new partner was escaping an abusive marriage, describing Mrs Butler as a violent alcoholic who had cheated on her husband with Mr Coad.

She wrote that Mrs Butler had ‘confided in me that she had been seeing an Australian without John’s knowledge and was contemplating returning with him to Adelaide.
I know from John that when he discovered this relationship he was crushed but he forgave Rachael, although his pain took some years to subside.’

At the time, about a decade ago, Mr Coad was working for an automotive components company and living close to Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds, where the Butlers and Ms Dorries – then married to husband Paul – had their homes. 

Last night Mr Coad, who now skippers the Captain Proud paddleboat on the Murray river in Adelaide, admitted going for pub lunches with Mrs Butler ‘but nothing more’. 

'Her word against mine': Rachael Butler confirms Mr Coad's version of events

'Her word against mine': Rachael Butler confirms Mr Coad's version of events

He said that the lunches had always been in the company of other people. ‘She seemed a bit lonely but we were not having a relationship. We never even had any deep and meaningful conversations,’ said Mr Coad, who has been married for eight years and was in a relationship at the time of the lunches.

Mr Coad met Mrs Butler over a period of several months until he returned to Australia. There, he said he found the ‘aggressive’ message on his answerphone. Mr Coad said: ‘Remembering the house they had, I can’t see why she would want to come to Australia in a million years.’

Last night Mrs Butler confirmed Mr Coad’s version. ‘He was paying me the attention I wasn’t getting from my husband at the time but there was nothing sexual about it,’ she said. Asked why Ms Dorries was so sure they had an affair, Mrs Butler said: ‘It is her word against mine, isn’t it?’

Members of the Mid Beds Conservative Association say they are horrified by the way she aired the relationship. Fiona Chapman, a leading member of the association, said: ‘MPs’ private lives should remain private.’

Last night Ms Dorries was not available for comment.

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