Laws: 'When I grew up, being gay was not accepted by most people'

David Laws last night apologised over parliamentary expenses running into tens of thousands of pounds and spoke about his reasons for keeping his sexuality private.

Speaking to The Times newspaper after news of the row broke, Mr Laws said: "When I grew up, being gay was not accepted by most people, including many of my friends.

"So I have kept this secret from everyone I know for every day of my life. That has not been easy, and in some ways it is a relief not to have to go on misleading those close to me about who I am."

On Thursday, the newspaper asked him what his family situation was and he replied: "single". Asked whether he had a partner he said: "No".

Last night he said that he wished he had been more open. "I realise that I have made a serious mistake, because of my failure to be honest about my sexuality. Today has been the most difficult day of my life and I apologise to James, and to all my family, friends and constituents who I have not been honest with about who I am over all the years of my life."

He went on: "I hope that others will now learn that it is time for people to be honest about their sexuality. Keeping secrets is much tougher than telling other people who you really are."

Admitting that his actions would seem "very strange for many people today" Mr Laws said that this partner, James Lundie, was the only person he had ever had a relationship with.

"Only one person was aware of who I really am - James. I hope that people will understand that fear of loss of privacy rather than desire for financial gain has been behind the problems I now have."

Labour MP Alan Whitehead, a member of the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee in the last parliament, said Mr Laws' position would be "very difficult" if he was found to have committed "serious breaches" of the rules.

"Clearly if the commissioner decides that serious breaches of the rules have taken place, serious misjudgments have been made about his position, then I think his position will be very difficult," Mr Whitehead told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Certainly on the facts and the way the previous rules operated it is quite clear that David Laws seems to have broken those rules.

"The question I think behind it is the judgment call that he made, and indeed a lot of MPs made judgment calls about the previous rules - some of them disastrously bad.

"That I guess will be the centrepiece of what the commissioner for standards looks at. To decide whether the judgment call that was made by David Laws was indeed one that at least to some extent mitigated what he has done as far as his expenses are concerned."

Mr Whitehead pointed out that the police were able to step in and start an investigation if the matter was considered serious enough.

Foreign minister Jeremy Browne, a friend and Lib Dem colleague of Mr Laws, told Today: "I've known David for about 15 years and I can tell you categorically that this is a human story, it's not a financial story.

"He is a deeply private man and he has a personal wish not to have his life put up in lights.

"I think it should be possible to be in politics and serve your country and still maintain a private life at the same time."

He stressed that Mr Laws had given up a lucrative City career to go into politics, and could have claimed far more in expenses if he had stated openly that he was part of a couple.

The term "partner" in Commons expenses rules was "ill defined" and "not black and white", according to Mr Browne, and the Standards Commissioner would examine that situation.

However, put that Mr Laws and Mr Lundie appeared to have been together since 2001, the MP replied: "I never said it was a casual relationship."

Mr Browne described Mr Laws as "brilliant" and accused the media of damaging the national interest by "prying" into his private life.

"We are in a state of national crisis at the moment," he said. "We have somebody, one of the most talented, brilliant politicians of his generation in the Treasury trying to get our national finances back on their feet.

"If we have a national death wish where we want to pull people down and destroy them personally when they have devoted their life to public service, we are in a state of collective self harm."

He added: "This is a massive distraction, motivated possibly by politics, to tear David down."

Mr Laws had set an "example of frugality" by claiming less in expenses than he was entitled to over the years, the Taunton MP insisted.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine