by Andrew Moir
The former minister made a vain attempt to stop The News of the World publishing photos of his mistress posing for him in his commons office by raising an injunction action. The publication of these photos was deemed to be in the public interest by High Court Judge Mr. Justice King.
Having first denied the existence of the pictures Mr. Griffiths the claimed the night had been a barely remembered drunken haze. Mr. Justice King took a different view saying, “At the very least he was being economical with the truth. It could be said to be a lie but I don’t have to go that far.”
Mr. Griffiths economy extended not only to forgetting the night in question but also downloading 71 pictures to his laptop. These pictures should provide an aid to memory as they were time stamped. The illicit liaison took place Remembrance Day 2008 and began at 11.35pm. After publication Mr. Griffiths’ recall did not improve claiming “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 public now have a coherent view of the MP’s activities that night. Griffiths took 27 pictures of his unnamed brunette lover in his office before taking 44 more at another location. They show his mistress in a number of poses including flashing her leg through stockings and spread out naked on a rug on the office floor.
There could be further problems for the MP as he may be in breach of the Parliamentary code. Paragraph 15 of the code 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.”
Last week complaints were received by John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, regarding Mr. Griffiths’ conduct. It is the Commissioner’s responsibility to monitor and code of conduct for MPs and to 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, intended only for serious parliamentary business. With the press continuing to run this story, further complaints could 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, Jack Straw. 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 Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Griffiths’ close friend and former best man. It was also revealed at the weekend that Home Secretary Jacqui 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. 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.
Sex and politics are no strangers and revelations have caused the downfall of many prominent figures going back to the Profumo affair in 1963. 2006 saw prominent Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten resign over his affair with a male prostitute. He was married with two daughters. In the same year Tommy Sheridan was accused by the News of the World of attending swingers’ clubs. He successfully sued for defamation but he was forced to leave his role as leader of the Scottish Socialist Party.
Yet perhaps it is Nigel Griffiths’, with his happy snapping, who has become part of Scottish politics’ most notable sex scandal.