The wives of two former Tory MPs accused of sexual misconduct will take their places in the House of Commons this week after being elected on Thursday.
Kate Griffiths became the new representative for Burton and Uttoxeter in East Staffordshire, replacing her estranged husband Andrew – who resigned as a minister after it emerged he had sent hundreds of lewd messages to two women, although he was later cleared of any wrongdoing by the parliamentary standards watchdog.
She will be joined on the Tory benches by Natalie Elphicke, taking the place of husband Charlie – who stepped down to fight three sexual assault charges, which he denies – in Dover and Deal, Kent.
The two newcomers spoke of their joy after picking up more votes than their predecessors.
Shamed Mr Griffiths quit as Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility in July last year, when the Sunday Mirror revealed he had bombarded a barmaid and her friend with texts demanding sex .
He had initially intended to stand in this year’s election, but stepped aside after Mrs Griffiths – who said she is divorcing him – announced she would be standing against him.
She said she would not accept his offer of political support.
On Thursday Mrs Elphicke won 57% of the vote – a 5% improvement on her partner’s performance in 2017.
Mr Elphicke stood aside to fight three criminal charges of sexual assault, and will stand trial in June next year.
The first alleged offence against the first woman is said to have taken place in 2007. Two further offences against a second woman are alleged to have taken place in 2016.
The 48-year-old Tory – who strenuously denies any wrongdoing – had the Tory whip suspended, but it was restored in December last year just before a no confidence vote in Theresa May.
It was suspended again in the summer when he was charged.
Mrs Elphicke was selected by the local Conservative association after 30 years of campaiging for the Tories.
Following her election she said: “My goodness! What an absolutely stunning result, thank you!
“This is the clearest possible direction from the people of Dover and Deal to get Brexit done so we can move forward as a country – to strengthen our economy, to bring more jobs and the money we need to deliver better healthcare.”
In a good night for the Conservatives, Mrs Griffiths won her seat with 29,560 votes and even increased her husband’s majority from 10,000 in 2017 to a comfortable 14,000.
She told Burton Live : “I am very excited, very proud. It is a huge honour and privilege to represent the people of Burton and Uttoxeter and I cannot wait to get stuck into the job.”
Mr Griffiths was cleared of any wrongdoing by the parliamentary standards watchdog, which said there was no evidence the lewd messages had been sent while he was carrying out his duties in the House of Commons.
The Sunday Mirror revealed how he referred to Imogen and a friend as the “ti**y twins” and suggested a string of depraved acts.
He sent 2,000 texts over three weeks after becoming pals on social media.
But what started as harmless flirting rapidly turned into a barrage of perverted demands.
He asked them to tie each other up and boasted: “I can be an evil ******* when I’m turned on.”