Andrew Griffiths, 48, resigned as small business minister after the scandal broke
A disgraced Tory MP who quit the Government after sending a barmaid and her friend a catalogue of lewd text messages has revealed he spent a month in a mental unit after the scandal broke.
Married father Andrew Griffiths, 48, resigned as small business minister in July after it was revealed he had sent 2,000 sexual texts to Imogen Treharne and a pal in just 21 days, weeks after the birth of his first child.
He told the Sunday Times that he had been left ‘on the verge of suicide’ and that his actions had been the culmination of decades of mental health problems, sparked by being sexually abused by an older boy when he was aged eight, something he never revealed to his parents.
The Burton and Uttoxeter MP told the paper the messages he sent the pair – which included referring to himself as ‘Daddy’ and asking for explicit photos – had ‘reduced me to tears’ when he reread them.
Griffiths, a child of older parents who both died before he was 30, said he had also suffered depression caused by their deaths, and later the struggle he and his wife Kate, 47, had to conceive before Alice was born in April.
The Burton and Uttoxeter MP said his actions, of sending 2,000 texts to the two women in 21 days, had been the culmination of decades of mental health problems
He then experienced what he said were ‘the flames of anxiety’ when he realised he was the same age as his father was when he was born, and feared his daughter’s life would mirror his own.
To compound this, he told the paper, his brother rang a few weeks later to say he was to undergo surgery for colon cancer.
Writing in the Sunday Times, he said: ‘Two days later, my mind in turmoil, I sent the first text that led to my downfall.
‘Twenty-one days and 2,000 messages later and my fall was complete. A friend said to me, ‘who in their right mind sends 2,000 messages in three weeks?’
‘And of course they were right. I wasn’t in my right mind. For me, anxiety felt like my head was ablaze and nobody could see the flames.
‘Work helped – it distracted me from my anxiety and dimmed the flames. Yet once the work stopped, the flames would burst back into life.
‘And that is where the texts came in – a sprinkler system; a coping mechanism of a virtual and imaginary world.
‘My disturbed mind blocking out my worries and fears by filling every spare moment, releasing me from thinking. The more chaotic my collapse became, the more compulsive my messaging.’
Mr Griffiths, who once worked as Theresa May’s chief of staff, was appointed to the small business role in January, having been a Government whip from July 2016.
Among his activities as a minister, this year he led the Government’s response to findings of the Hampton-Alexander Review into gender equality at the top of business.
He also launched a campaign to encourage more fathers to take paternity leave.
Mr Griffiths, who is awaiting the results of an internal party disciplinary, told the Sunday Times he planned to stay in politics – ‘firstly for my daughter, because I can’t leave her with this legacy. And secondly because if I give up now and walk away then the abuse wins’.