Andrew Griffiths, the government’s small business minister, has resigned following claims in a newspaper he sent 2,000 sexual messages to two constituents.
According to The Sunday Mirror, the Conservative Party MP for Burton sent explicit messages to two female bar workers and offered to rent a flat to meet for sex.
“He demanded explicit photos and videos and described degrading sex acts in crude detail”, the newspaper claimed.
It is believed Griffiths resigned from his position as small business minister on Friday night ahead of The Sunday Mirror’s exposé.
In an official statement, a spokesman from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Andrew Griffiths resigned as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Small Business on Friday night for personal reasons.”
In a statement to The Sunday Mirror, Griffiths said: “I am deeply ashamed at my behaviour which has caused untold distress to my wife and family, to whom I owe everything, and deep embarrassment to the prime minister and the government I am so proud to serve.
“I tendered my resignation as parliamentary under secretary of state for small business on Friday night.
“Following discussions today with the chief whip I have referred myself to the Conservative party’s code of conduct procedures.
“I entirely accept that pending this investigation it is right the whip is withdrawn.
“I wish to apologise to my constituency association and to the people of Burton I am honoured to represent.
“I do not seek to excuse my behaviour and will be seeking professional help to ensure it never happens again.”
Before entering parliament, Griffiths worked under prime minister Theresa May as chief of staff.
“Other than working at his Dad’s business in the 1980s, it’s hard to see what experience Griffiths is going to bring to the table.”
Sam Rogers, director Rampant PR
When Griffiths was appointed back in January, we asked a panel of small business decision makers what areas they wanted to see Margot James’ successor focus on as small business minister.
The five areas put forward were: GDPR compliance for small companies, fix the bank referral scheme, startup tax concessions, the skills shortage and winning over Britain’s entrepreneurs.
“I’m going to bring you to London and do whatever I want to you.”
Would you trust this man to fight for your interests in parliament?
However, arguably Griffiths greatest focus was the legacy left by his predecessor – the UK’s late payment problem.
James introduced payment reporting rules for large companies and also established the office of the small business commissioner, a role largely dedicated to fighting late payments.
Despite continuing James’ reforms, late payments continued to plague micro business owners under Griffiths.
New research from FreeAgent has today revealed that 47% of invoices paid to micro business owners and freelancers were paid later than agreed terms in 2017.
Separate research carried out by the accounting software provider also revealed that one in four UK micro company owners have had to wait three to six months to get paid by a client, while 10% have had a client who never paid them at all.
Small business commissioner, Paul Uppal, was granted a £1.4m annual budget to tackle late payments, but FreeAgent CEO Ed Molyneux believes government intervention has so far been ineffective.
“While the government recognises the late payment problem, the reality is that the small business commissioner has limited power to actually punish companies who routinely pay their invoices late, aside from just naming and shaming them,” he explained.
“Late payments put freelancers and micro businesses at significant risk, and we need stricter measures in place to tackle late payment culture.”
Griffiths, who recently became a father, set up the government’s Women to Win campaign to get more female MPs elected.
He was also responsible for promoting the shared parental leave policy, but told BBC 5 Live listeners he would not be eligible to take advantage of the policy he had launched.
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