This story was subject to a midnight embargo but has already been broken by The Times.
"You may have seen the announcement of my intention to retire from the House of Commons at the next election and will no doubt want to cover this. The fact that I have not been able to announce this until now, will mean that the Association will not be able to advertise the vacancy to the full Candidates List; however, I did not deliberately delay the announcement until the new year.
I had been thinking about this since the autumn, but wanted to await Sir T Legge’s report, which I hoped would clear me of the need to repay any of the expenses that I had claimed, as it did. We had all expected him to report by mid October, but he did not do so until early December. I then needed to tell David Cameron and arranged to see my Association Chairman to tell him on December 12th; however, the previous day the Daily Telegraph published an article about the sale of my constituency home. Had I announced my retirement the next day it would have been seen as at least linked to the article if not as a result of it. I therefore felt I had no alternative but to wait a few weeks, which is what I did.
I am sure that you would want to be totally accurate in how you report my retirement and that what you say will fully reflect these facts."
Mr Maples' explanation of his delay is unacceptable. For the sake of not wanting to look as though The Telegraph had forced him out, he is content for his Association to lose the right to have a proper choice of all on the candidates list. Unbelievable. Does Mr Maples realise that 12th December was not the last day of 2009? He could have made his retirement announcement on 30th December, as John Gummer did. Now Stratford on Avon members will be subject to by-election procedures and have a choice of just three imposed candidates. If Mr Maples had resigned before the new year his local members would not have been disenfranchised in this way.
Since becoming Head of Candidates John Maples has disrespected grassroots Tory members at every turn (see here and here and especially here by way of example). As I've argued before, he must not have any say in the shortlisting process for his or other seats that will select on emergency shortlists of three.
Given that Mr Gummer, Ian Taylor and David Curry are all leaving the Commons, Mr Maples' departure means that Ken Clarke will be the only prominent EU enthusiast left in the Tory Parliamentary Party after the next election. Tim Yeo is also widely rumoured to be leaving the Commons.
Mr Maples becomes the second MP to quit since the start of the year. Peter Ainsworth was the first.
Stratford on Avon has a projected Tory majority of 11,059.