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Andrew Griffiths (politician)

Andrew James Griffiths (born 19 October 1970) is a former British Conservative Party politician and former banker. First elected in 2010, he was the Member of Parliament for Burton until he stepped down at the 2019 General Election.[1]

Andrew Griffiths
Official portrait of Andrew Griffiths crop 2.jpg
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility
In office
9 January 2018 – 13 July 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byMargot James
Succeeded byKelly Tolhurst
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
17 July 2016 – 9 January 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byMel Stride
Succeeded byNigel Adams
Member of Parliament
for Burton
In office
7 May 2010 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byJanet Dean
Succeeded byElection in progress
Personal details
Born (1970-10-19) 19 October 1970 (age 49)
Dudley, Staffordshire, England
NationalityBritish
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)
Kate Griffiths (m. 2013)
Children1
OccupationPolitician
Websiteandrewgriffithsmp.com

He served as Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State) at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy until his resignation in July 2018 after the Sunday Mirror revealed that Griffiths had sent over 2,000 text messages to two female constituents, many of a violent sexual nature.

Early life and careerEdit

Andrew James Griffiths was born on 19 October 1970 in Dudley, Staffordshire to Robert and Harriet Griffiths (née Du'Rose). He attended Bramford Primary School and High Arcal School. He is the youngest of their five children. His father was a local councillor for 34 years and served as Mayor of Dudley in 1982.[2][3][4] After finishing secondary school, Griffiths joined the family engineering business. He then worked for the Leeds Permanent Building Society (now the bank Halifax).[5]

In 1999, Griffiths began to work for the West Midlands MEP team in the European Parliament in Brussels, before being appointed adviser on farming. He worked for the European Agricultural Spokesman Neil Parish MEP. Griffiths stood as a Conservative council candidate on three separate occasions, but was not elected. He first contested the safe Labour seat of Dudley North at the 2001 general election, coming in 6,800 votes behind Labour's Ross Cranston.[6] Griffiths unsuccessfully stood as a Conservative candidate at the 2004 European Parliament election in the West Midlands constituency.[7][8]

After the election, he became chief of staff to MP Theresa May.[9] During this time, Griffiths also helped set up Women 2 Win, a campaign to get more Conservative women elected to parliament. In 2006, he moved to work for the Culture, Media and Sport team, working as Chief of Staff to MP Hugo Swire.[4] After Swire was sacked as part of a cabinet reshuffle, Griffiths became Chief of Staff to Eric Pickles, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and remained Pickles' Chief of Staff when he became the Party chairman.[4][10] He was a member of the A-List and was selected as a parliamentary candidate for Burton in November 2006.[11]

Parliamentary careerEdit

Griffiths was elected at the 2010 general election for Burton, regaining the seat for the Conservatives for the first time since 1997 when it was held by Ivan Lawrence from 1974. Griffiths was re-elected at the 2015 General Election[12] He served as Secretary of the All-party parliamentary group (APPG) for the Misuse of Drugs and Alcohol, Additional General Secretary of the APPG for Kashmir, and Vice-Chairman of the APPG for Home Education. He was Chairman of the APPG for Beer for five years and campaigned against increased taxes on beer (the beer duty escalator). He was a member of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee between 2010 and 2013.

Griffiths has not joined fellow local Conservative MPs Andrew Bridgen and Heather Wheeler in campaigning for the return of passenger rail services on the Burton to Leicester railway line - the Ivanhoe Line.[13] However, he has campaigned for improvements to be made to Burton Station.[14]

In February 2015, Griffiths was awarded Parliamentarian of the Year by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in recognition of his role in campaigning for the reduction of tax increases on beer. The award sparked controversy from some CAMRA campaigners due to Griffiths' opposition to other CAMRA campaigns on increasing planning controls on public houses, to prevent their loss, and for opposing reform to the controversial system of "beer ties" which oblige landlords to pay higher prices to the chain owners (pubcos) for their beer supplies.[15]

Griffths supported the UK remaining within the EU in the 2016 EU membership referendum.[16]

Following Theresa May becoming Prime Minister in July 2016, Griffiths was appointed as a Government Whip and Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury[17] on 17 July 2016.

During Jeremy Corbyn's response to the November 2017 Budget on 22 November 2017, Griffiths heckled him over his comments on the lack of adequate Government funding for care homes. Labour MPs accused Griffiths of ageism and abusive language for shouting that Corbyn belonged in a care home.[18] Griffiths denied this, instead suggesting that he was responding to Corbyn's statement "there are elderly people in need of help," and that he said: "That's you!"[19] Corbyn responded with the comment: "The uncaring, uncouth attitude of certain members of parliament needs to be called out".[19]

On 12 February 2018, Griffiths received media coverage after he was interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live to promote shared parental leave and said that he would not be able to take it himself when his own baby was due to be born later that year, saying, "Unfortunately, as a minister, I'm not allowed... Ministers are not allowed to take shared parental leave." The presenter, Emma Barnett, said: "Hang on a minute, back up a second, you’ve just come on the radio to promote Shared Parental Leave and you’re in a job where the rules could be changed because you are the rule-makers, where you’re not allowed to take Shared Parental Leave?" "That’s right," responded Griffiths. "How can you say that without laughing?" asked Barnett. Griffiths said his main concern was for other parents to take advantage of the system.[20]

In March 2018, Griffiths was criticised by opposition MPs for blocking an SNP proposal for a bill that would secure the national minimum wage for those working on a "trial period" basis. It was revealed that Griffiths had previously advertised for an unpaid intern position in his own office. In response, Griffiths admitted he had used unpaid interns, but argued that the bill was not needed because existing law was already adequate in this area.[21]

In November 2019, Griffiths announced that he was standing down at the 2019 general election. His wife Kate was selected as the Conservative Party candidate for his constituency Burton.[22]

Sexual misconduct allegationsEdit

On 14 July 2018, the Sunday Mirror reported that Griffiths had sent up to 2,000 sexually explicit texts in a three week period to two of his female constituents. In response to this, he resigned from his ministerial position and he was suspended by the Conservative Party.[23][9][24] He had previously been accused of inappropriate touching and bullying of a Conservative borough councillor and the bullying of the leader of another council as well as his former campaign manager.[25][26]

In November 2018, during an interview with The Sunday Times, Griffiths reported that he planned to kill himself after the sexual misconduct allegations came to light. During the same interview, Griffiths said that the texts that he had sent to the women were "the result of my mental breakdown" following a "battle with my own mental health". He disclosed that he had a long history of mental health problems resulting from being allegedly abused at the age of eight by a 15 year old boy.[27][28] On 12 December 2018, Griffiths had the Conservative whip restored, ending his suspension from the party.[29][30] His reinstation was widely criticised for being announced hours before a confidence vote in Conservative leader Theresa May, making Griffiths eligible to participate.[29][31]

On 8 September 2019, Griffiths was cleared of breaching the House of Commons' code of conduct by the parliamentary standards watchdog as it could not find any evidence that he sent messages while carrying out parliamentary activities.[32]

Personal lifeEdit

Griffiths married Kate Kniveton in 2013,[33] the two have one daughter born in April 2018.[34] After his wife learned of his sexual messages to other women she left him. They are currently in the process of a divorce.[22]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "BBC News – Election 2010 – Constituency – Burton". Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  2. ^ "Griffiths, Andrew James". UK Who's Who. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  3. ^ "Winter 2015/16" (PDF). Sedgley Journal. p. 2.
  4. ^ a b c Perrett, Michelle (20 May 2012). "The Big Interview: Andrew Griffiths MP, chair All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group". The Morning Advertiser. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  5. ^ Nugent, Helen (12 May 2018). "Interview: Andrew Griffiths". Journal of Trading Standards. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  6. ^ "Dudley North". BBC News. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  7. ^ "Andrew Griffiths". politics.co.uk. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  8. ^ "European Election: West Midlands Result". BBC News. 14 June 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Minister resigns over texts to women". BBC News. 14 July 2018 – via www.bbc.com.
  10. ^ "Shadow Cabinet: Who's Who". BBC News. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  11. ^ "Where are the original A-Listers now? The 27 who have been selected for target seats". 22 April 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  12. ^ "BBC News – Election 2015 – Constituency – Burton". BBC News. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  13. ^ "New Calls to Reopen Railway Line". Burton Mail. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  14. ^ "Improvements to 'hideous' Burton station edge a step closer as politicians and rail bosses join forces". Burton Mail. 15 March 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Uproar after Andrew Griffithd MP handed CAMRA Award". Morning Advertiser. 4 February 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  16. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Andrew Griffiths on Twitter". Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  18. ^ Forrester, Kate (23 November 2017). "Labour MPs Reveal Alleged Budget Jibe By Tory Whip Who Said Jeremy Corbyn 'Should Be In Care'". Huff Post. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  19. ^ a b Price, Rob (22 November 2017). "Jeremy Corbyn angrily tears into Tory MP for allegedly joking he should be 'in a care home'". Business Insider. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  20. ^ "Minister promoting shared parental leave says he can't take shared leave". Guardian. 12 February 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Andrew Griffiths MP comes under fire for unpaid intern job advert during debate". Burton Mail. 20 March 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  22. ^ a b "General election 2019: Kate Griffiths selected as Burton Tory candidate". BBC News. 13 November 2019.
  23. ^ "MP Andrew Griffiths quits ministerial post after "sex texts" to female constituents are revealed". telegraph.co.uk. 14 July 2018. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  24. ^ Walker, Peter (11 October 2018). "Suspended Tory MP seeks early resolution to explicit texts inquiry". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  25. ^ Halliday, Josh (17 July 2018). "Andrew Griffiths was made minister despite 'touching' allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  26. ^ Halliday, Josh (21 July 2018). "May under pressure over Andrew Griffiths bullying allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  27. ^ Wheeler, Caroline (4 November 2018). "Andrew Griffiths interview: mental breakdown drove MP to send 'shameful' sex texts". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  28. ^ Halliday, Josh (4 November 2018). "Tory MP who sexted women says he was having manic episode". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  29. ^ a b Syal, Rajeev (12 December 2018). "Tories reinstate MPs suspended over sex allegations for confidence vote". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2018 – via www.theguardian.com.
  30. ^ "Conservatives restore whip to MPs suspended over claims of sexual misconduct so they can take part in Theresa May no-confidence vote". The Independent. 12 December 2018. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  31. ^ Rayner, Gordon; Maidment, Jack; Yorke, Harry; Graham, Chris; Horton, Helena (12 December 2018). "Theresa May no confidence vote result: Prime Minister survives but 117 Tory MPs go against her". The Telegraph – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  32. ^ "Tory MP cleared of wrongdoing for sending explicit texts". The Guardian. 8 September 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  33. ^ "Burton Bulletin" (PDF). Rotary International. p. 8.
  34. ^ Pridding, Beth (17 April 2018). "'She's our little miracle' - Andrew Griffiths and wife Kate welcome their first baby into the world". Staffordshire Live. Retrieved 13 September 2019.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Janet Dean
Member of Parliament for Burton
20102019
Succeeded by
Election in progress