MP in suicide row breaks silence

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Suspended Labour MP Tommy Graham yesterday broke his silence to appeal to the media to leave him alone. The MP for West Renfrewshire has not been seen in public since the suicide of fellow Labour MP Gordon McMaster last month.

In comments relayed by his solicitor, Mr Graham denied that he was planning to stage a "tell-all" press conference, and said he was considering legal action against some newspapers over "derogatory comments which were completely unfounded".

Mr Graham was last week suspended as a Labour MP along with two other local party figures, and a far-reaching investigation was ordered into three local Labour parties, after the suicide of Mr McMaster brought to a head years of infighting and intrigue in party circles in Renfrewshire.

Weekend speculation that Mr Graham was considering a press conference to put his side of the events is thought to have caused consternation within Labour, at a time when the party believes it has weathered the worst of the Renfrewshire storm and can start concentrating on the devolution campaign.

But Mr Graham said yesterday that he would not be making any statement until the full inquiry into Renfrewshire politics had been completed by Labour's Chief Whip, Nick Brown. He urged others who wished to come forward and make a statement to do so then.

His solicitor, Iain Robertson, said the MP "absolutely denied" all the allegations against him, and welcomed the opportunity the inquiry would give him to clear his name. He also said Mr Graham - whose face appears on Tory anti-devolution posters - wanted to give full support to the pro-devolution campaign.

"He would like the media to concentrate on the very important issues raised as he supports the `Yes, Yes' vote and backs the party 100 per cent," Mr Robertson said.

Criticising media coverage of the affair, Mr Robertson went on: "Tommy feels that the derogatory tone of certain press articles was completely unnecessary and not worthy of the serious exposure given. To that end he is taking advice from senior counsel with a view to raising proceedings for defamation against the newspapers concerned."

Mr Robertson said he hoped the media would respect the MP's wishes to enable him and his family resume "some form of normality". "He would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have expressed their support to him," he said.