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More than 5,000 people have signed a petition calling for Andrew Griffiths to step down as MP for Burton. Photograph: /BPI/Rex/Shutterstock

May under pressure over Andrew Griffiths bullying allegations

Former minister had been accused of sending abusive texts when he was promoted

WT24 Desk

Theresa May is under pressure to explain whether she knew about allegations of “extreme bullying” against the disgraced former minister Andrew Griffiths when she promoted him to government within days of becoming prime minister, The Guardian reports

Griffiths, the prime minister’s former chief of staff who was forced to resign as a minister for sending hundreds of sexually explicit messages to two women, had been accused of bullying a council leader for several years when May took office in July 2016.

The complaints, which can be revealed for the first time, are understood to include claims that the Tory MP sent abusive text messages to Richard Grosvenor, the leader of the Tory-run East Staffordshire borough council.

Despite the complaint being acknowledged by Conservative campaign headquarters (CCHQ) in emails up to January 2016, Grosvenor said his allegations were never properly investigated.

Six months later, in July 2016, Griffiths was appointed lord commissioner of the Treasury and senior government whip in May’s first government.

The new revelation will raise further questions about his rapid rise to government and increase pressure on him to resign as the MP for Burton.

More than 5,000 people have signed a petition calling for him to step down and a demonstration is planned in his constituency next month. Many in his own party have refused to publicly back him as concerns about his past conduct have become public this week.

The 47-year-old stood down as minister for small business last weekend after it emerged he had sent more than 2,000 texts, many of them sexually aggressive, to two bar workers more than 20 years his junior.

The Guardian revealed this week that Griffiths was promoted to minister for small business in January despite being under investigation over allegations of inappropriate touching and bullying by Deneice Florence-Jukes, a former Tory borough councillor, who had filed a formal complaint three months earlier.

It is understood that the complaints by Grosvenor, who has led the Conservatives on East Staffordshire borough council since May 2009, date back to at least 2015 – before Griffiths was promoted to government.

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