A Conservative MP who bombarded two women with 2,000 "sexting" messages in just 21 days has been cleared of wrongdoing by the parliamentary standards watchdog.
Andrew Griffiths resigned from the government as minister for small business after a newspaper revealed the sexual text messages he sent to barmaid Imogen Treharne and a friend – two of his constituents.
They included messages in which he referred to himself as Daddy and asked for explicit photographs.
The watchdog said it had found no evidence the Burton and Uttoxeter MP sent the messages while he would have been engaged in parliamentary activities.
Allegations that the married father-of-one breached the House of Commons’ code of conduct were not upheld.
It said: Mr Griffiths’ conduct has undoubtedly damaged his own reputation, as well as his health and family relationships.
However damaging these events have been for Mr Griffths personally, I am not persuaded that the texts he exchanged with the two women have caused significant damage to the reputation of the House of Commons as a whole, or of its members generally.
In November last year, Mr Griffiths, who was first elected to parliament in 2010, was found in potential breach of the Conservatives’ code of conduct, but the party decided against taking any action due to the state of his mental health.
Earlier that month the MP had revealed how he was on the verge of suicide following the emergence of his messages, prompting him to spend a month in hospital.
Some of the messages he sent were read out in the House of Commons by Labour MP Jess Phillips after he controversially had the party whip restored.
His suspension from the Tory parliamentary party was lifted just hours before he voted in favour of Theresa May, as the prime minister faced a confidence vote in her leadership.
Withdrawing the whip means MPs get to keep their seats in parliament but sit in the Commons chamber as independent MPs.
Mrs Phillips used business questions in the Commons to share what she said were some of the messages Mr Griffiths sent to the women.
According to Mrs Phillips, the messages read: She’s so cute. So sweet. I can’t wait to beat her, adding: Can she take a beating?
The Labour MP said: Those are not my words, but the words of Andrew Griffiths while barraging two of his female constituents with thousands of sexual text messages.
Mrs Phillips claimed Mr Griffiths had the Tory whip restored without any due process.
Andrea Leadsom, then leader of the House of Commons, told Mrs Phillips the investigation had nothing to do with her, but a process had been undertaken.
It has been a decision by the chief whip. It is not something I have been privy to, she said.
Mr Griffiths was appointed to the small business role last January, having been a government whip from July 2016.
Among his activities as a minister, he launched a campaign to encourage more fathers to take paternity leave.