Politics & Parliament: Davies attacks 'twisted lies of media bullies'

DAVIES RESIGNATION
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The Independent Online
RON DAVIES, the former Welsh Secretary, spoke out bitterly against media "bullying" during a personal statement in the Commons yesterday.

In an emotional speech following speculation about his sexuality since his resignation last week, he said "one mistake" had resulted in the whole of his life being "picked over and twisted out of all recognition".

"Last Monday evening I made a severe error of judgement in failing to protect my personal safety and became the victim of what for me was a frightening and shocking crime. I reported the matter to the police and the process of law will now take its course. For that reason I will make no further comment on that aspect of the matter."

Speaking from the backbenches, Mr Davies described the events of the past week as a "nightmare" and dismissed media reporting of the affair as a "stream of rubbish".

"I wish to offer my heartfelt apologies to the House for any embarrassment I may have caused." Outlining his apology to Tony Blair last Tuesday and his offer of resignation, he thanked the Prime Minister for his "personal support and solicitude" over the last few days, which "has been a great comfort".

"The events of the last week have been unremittingly agonising. I could not have got through them without the love and support of the two people most dear to me, my wife, Chris, and my daughter, Angharad. Without the constant support of a few dear friends, I cannot imagine how I could have got through this nightmare." Mr Davies complained of a "constant barrage of media pressure"on both him and his friends .

"The shock of the events of last Monday and the sadness of my resignation have been added to by media intrusion into my private life, reporting as fact a stream of rubbish. Rumour and lies have been asserted as truth."

"The whole of my adult life has been pored over for something which could be twisted to suit the present prejudice. Ultimately this arbitrary abuse of power is not just an attack on me but on all our rights.

"The right to privacy belongs to all citizens. The victims of crime, even if they are in public life, cannot be excluded from that. We all have rights. We also have responsibilities and this applies to the media as well."

Mr Davies recalled learning a "hard lesson" in childhood. "You can't allow powerful people to bully the weak or to abuse their own power."

He asked how willing the next crime victim would be to report it and how eager people would be to stand for public office "in the knowledge that one mistake may result in the whole of their lives being picked over and twisted out of all recognition". How could it improve democracy "if our lives, our influences and relationships were laid out for public titillation?"

The MP for Caerphilly went on: "We are what we are. We are all different, the products both of our genes and our experiences. Members of Parliament are no different from the society we represent."

Mr Davies said that since becoming Labour spokesman for Wales in 1992, the creation of a new democracy for Wales had been a "personal commitment and a political responsibility" for him.

"I know that the process that I started will go on, creating a more tolerant, a more open and a more mature way of conducting politics. My experience of the last week could not have provided for me a more vivid demonstration of the need for such a tolerant and understanding society. The support that I have received from colleagues, from ordinary citizens and indeed the Welsh media reassures me that this is a vision which is widely shared."

Mr Davies added: "Not for the first time in my life I have been badly beaten and hurt. I believe that my defences are strong enough to see me through this very trying time.

"From adversity can of course come strength. That will be so in my present circumstances.

"I worked hard to change the face of politics and government in Wales. I am now more determined than ever to see those changes through."

Earlier, Downing Street denied allegations that M15 had warned Tony Blair about Mr Davies' behaviour. "The Prime Minister has had no warnings about Ron Davies in the past by anybody," Mr Blair's official spokesman said.

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