Policeman probed after British minister quits

21st January 2011, Comments 0 comments

British police said Friday they are investigating an officer after reports that he had an affair with the wife of top lawmaker Alan Johnson, hours after Johnson resigned for "personal reasons".

Media reports suggested the police officer had been assigned to protect Johnson, a veteran member of the opposition Labour party, and his family when he served as interior minister before the election in May 2010.

Johnson, 60, resigned as Labour's finance spokesman late Thursday, saying he was finding it "difficult to cope" with some personal issues.

Several media outlets said the officer had an affair with Johnson's second wife of almost 20 years, Laura, with whom the lawmaker has a ten-year-old son.

Responding to the reports, police said: "On the evening of 20 January certain matters regarding an MPS PC (Metropolitan Police Service police constable) were referred to the Directorate of Professional Standards.

"We are not in a position to discuss further at this time. No officer is suspended or relieved of duties at this time."

Labour leader Ed Miliband said he had accepted Johnson's resignation "with regret" and announced he would be replaced by Ed Balls, a former close aide of ex-premier Gordon Brown who was previously Labour's home affairs spokesman.

Although he struggled with his financial brief, Johnson was one of Labour's most experienced lawmakers and his departure was described by one colleague Friday as a "real loss".

The former postman had worked his way up through the trade unions and joined parliament in 1997, taking his first ministerial job in Tony Blair's cabinet two years later.

The statement in which he announced his shock resignation gave little away, saying only: "I have decided to resign from the shadow cabinet for personal reasons to do with my family.

"I have found it difficult to cope with these personal issues in my private life whilst carrying out an important frontbench role."

© 2011 AFP

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