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Monday, November 2, 1998 Published at 19:36 GMT

UK Politics

Davies fails to calm speculation

Davies: More unanswered questions

By Political Correspondent Nick Assinder

If fallen Welsh Secretary Ron Davies intended his words in the Commons to draw a line under his "bizarre" resignation then he will be deeply disappointed.

In an emotional and sometimes angry speech he thanked those who are standing beside him, including his family and the prime minister, and he lambasted the press for peddling rumours and lies as the truth.

But, while there was widespread sympathy for his position right across the Commons, he made a number of statements that served only to intensify the speculation about his sexuality.

In one comment which was immediately seized upon as significant, he declared: "How can it improve democracy if our lives in this House, our influences and our relationships were all laid out for public titillation.

"We are what we are. We are all different, the product both of our genes and our experiences. MPs are no different from the society that we represent."

Bullied as child

He also referred to having been bullied as a child, stating: "In my own childhood I learned a very hard lesson, at a very early age - you can't allow powerful people to bully the weak or to abuse their own power."

And he later added: "Not for the first time in my life, I have been badly beaten and hurt."

His former advisor refused to be drawn on questions about Mr Davies' sexuality, first saying he had not meant his comments to be read as an admission of homosexuality, then declaring Mr Davies would not be drawn into comments about his private life.

And talk of a life-forming event in his childhood also only succeeded in raising new interest and guaranteed further press attention.

Dignified nature

Mr Davies' comments left many MPs dismayed over exactly why he had chosen to make such a statement rather than trying to let the issue fade away.

Others were speculating that he was desperate to get something off his chest and were ready to read his words as a confession of some sort.

But all agreed that, whatever his intentions, he had still failed to give a clear and detailed account of what had happened on Clapham Common and in Brixton a week ago.

What cheered some of Mr Davies' colleagues was the dignified nature of his statement and his clear determination to get on with his life.

There had been some fears that the stress of the last week had taken a severe toll on him, but they were dispelled by his performance.

Downing Street again offered its sympathy, with the prime minister's official spokesman saying: "Clearly it's been a very traumatic few days for him and the public will think the guy has suffered."

And he said he thought the former minister should be allowed time to rebuild his life and his career free from media pressure.

But the Tories continued to press for more details, claiming his speech had only amounted to him declaring that being a victim of crime was now a resigning matter.

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