Sexting Tory MP was made minister by Theresa May 'despite allegations of inappropriate touching'
A Tory MP was made a minister by Theresa May despite being under investigation over allegations of inappropriate touching, it has been reported.
Andrew Griffiths was forced to step down from his role as Small Business Minister last week after bombarding two women with thousands of lewd texts.
But according to the Guardian, Mr Griffiths had been appointed to his ministerial role despite having faced claims of bullying and inappropriate behaviour - one of which was being probed at the time of his promotion.
East Staffordshire councillor Deneice Florence-Jukes accused Mr Griffiths of touching her knee and grabbing her by the waist during a fundraising dinner in 2016 – an allegation she put in writing to the Conservative party.
“He said he was aware [I wanted to become an MP] and at this point put his hand on my right knee and told me he was going to help me as he had been instrumental in setting up Women2Win with the Prime Minister, Theresa May”, she told the Guardian.
“He is far too familiar with regards to inappropriate touching. I feel it crosses boundaries by him touching my knee, holding me around the waist, and what I term lingering holds when in close proximity to him.”
A probe into the Tory MP's behaviour dismissed the allegations in February this year after Mr Griffiths said it was “implausible” he could have touched someone’s knee in a room full of people.
Meanwhile, the Guardian said Mr Griffiths had faced previous allegations of bullying, including by his former election campaign manager John Wheatley and the leader of his local East Staffordshire borough council, Richard Grosvenor.
Mr Grosvenor said he had been the victim of “extreme bullying for many years” at the hands of Mr Griffiths as he called for him to stand down as an MP.
"I and many colleagues and residents, find it difficult to understand how he can carry out his role as an MP interacting with constituents following his unacceptable behaviour and he needs in seriously consider resigning,” he told the paper.
The Burton MP's promotion from a whip to a junior minister a month before the investigation about the alleged touching incident concluded came just weeks after Parliament was mired in bullying and sexual harassment scandals.
Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said that there were “questions” to be answered over his appointment, but said the decision had been made by the Prime Minister’s office.
In his resignation letter last week, Mr Griffiths apologised to the Prime Minister, his wife and his constituents, saying he was “deeply ashamed” of his sexting behaviour.
“I do not seek to excuse my behaviour and will be seeking professional help to ensure it never happens again," he said.
“In time I hope to earn the forgiveness of all those who put their trust in me and that I have let down so terribly.”
A Conservative party spokesperson said: “Our code of conduct is a robust process that ensures any official complaint made is investigated in full by an independent panel.
"The panel came to a clear decision and no further action was taken.”
The Guardian said Mr Griffiths had not responded to the latest allegations.