by Andrew Moir
The Labour MP made a vain attempt to stop The News of the World publishing photos of him by raising an injunction action. But publication was deemed to be in the public interest by Mr Justice King.
The incident took place on Rememberance Day 2008 and began at 11.35pm. After publication Griffiths responded: “I am, of course, ashamed that my conduct did fall below acceptable standards. I have little recollection of the evening but that does not make it right.”
The newspapers have a clearer idea as Mr Griffiths took 27 pictures of his unnamed brunette lover in his office before moving and taking 44 more at another location. Those pictures were timestamped by his digital camera. The pictures were downloaded to the former minister’s computer suggesting he had a better recollection than stated.
The pictures show the woman in his office in the House of Commons wearing stockings and posing naked on a rug.
There could be further problems for the MP as he has broken the Parliamentary code. Paragraph 15 states
“Members shall at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament and never undertake any action which would bring the House of Commons, or its Members generally, into disrepute.”
Complaints were received by John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, last week regarding Griffiths’ conduct. It is the Commissioner’s responsibility to monitor and code of conduct for MPs and investigate complaints. However on Thursday Mr Lyon concluded that these complaints did not warrant a full enquiry saying that, “The code states that it ‘does not seek to regulate what members do in their purely private and personal lives’.” However the interpretation does not take into account that the incident took place within the House of Commons, a place intended for serious parliamentary business. With the press continuing to run this story further complaints could of course be made.
Nigel Griffiths is the Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South. He was a member of the first New Labour Government with the portfolio of Parliamentary Undersecretary of State at the Department of Trade and Industry. He has served on many committees during the Labour administration. His last ministerial job was deputy to the Leader of the House of Commons to Jack Straw until 2005 when he resigned over the renewal of the British Trident system in 2007. The 53-year old politician has been married to his wife Sally for 30 years.
It is an embarrassing week for Gordon Brown, Griffiths’ close friend and former flatmate . It was also revealed at the weekend that Home Secretary Jaqui Smith had claimed parliamentary expenses for adult films viewed by her husband.
Mr Griffiths is no stranger to controversy. In 2002 it was claimed that he misled a committee on his own financial affairs. He was quizzed over £10,000 worth of claims on a property that he already owned. But despite the complaint being upheld, and Tory calls for him to resign, no further action was taken after the then Chancellor Gordon Brown stepped in on his friend’s behalf.