A FORMER council leader insisted he is “a multimillionaire” and doesn’t need to rely on hand-outs from developers as he was suspended by the Tory party.

Norman Smith has been booted from the party after a report found he broke the council’s code of conduct last year.

He has now expressed his regret at his actions, which saw him pressurise councillors to back his son’s planning application.

He also holidayed at a developer’s villa in Barbados.

Accusations were aimed at Mr Smith, who resigned from the council earlier this month, that he had used Bernard Litman’s villa for free, but he insists he paid £8,500 to use it.

He said: “In hindsight, I shouldn’t have spoken to them, but they approached me, not the other way around.

“I regret the issues surrounding my son, but I refute the allegations that I used it for free.

"I paid for my family to use it. I’m a multi-millionaire, I don’t need to be using a villa for free.”

The report found the Tory leader had used the Barbados villa three times in recent years.

He also attended Mr Litman’s garden parties.

Mr Smith added: “As the leader of the council, you will always get people coming up to to speak about anything, I should have just declined. Unfortunately I think this is just childish politics.

“All Tory councillors will have attended the garden parties, they were to raise funds for the party.”

A spokesman from the Castle Point Conservatives added: “Norman Smith was suspended from the party on March 3, following a complaint made of serious alleged misconduct on a number of matters relating to planning.

“We were informed that the matters were under investigation by Castle Point Council and, having had this confirmed by the council’s monitoring officer, agreed to wait until the council concluded their investigation and released their final report before taking further action so as not to prejudge the outcome. The Conservative party has strict rules governing the conduct of councillors. Any alleged violation of those rules will be taken very seriously.”