Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Monday, 1 February 2010

Labour MP Nigel Griffiths to quit at election

Nigel Griffiths
Nigel Griffiths has been the Edinburgh South MP for 23 years

Former Labour minister Nigel Griffiths has announced he will quit as MP for Edinburgh South at the next election.

Mr Griffiths, who has held the marginal seat for 23 years, said he was leaving the Commons to take up a "once in a lifetime job offer".

The politician was recently hit with allegations concerning his private life and the Westminster expenses scandal.

The announcement brings the number of Scottish Labour MPs stepping down so far to nine.

Meanwhile, former West Lothian Council leader Graeme Morrice has been selected as the Labour candidate in Livingston, after sitting MP Jim Devine was deselected by the party's special endorsement panel following a probe of his expenses claims.

Brian Taylor
Brian Taylor
Political editor

There is always churn at election time, but it does look as if the turnover will be substantial this time around.

Thus far, nine Scottish Labour MPs are retiring/departing before a vote is cast.

One Lib Dem, John Barrett, has announced that he is to go.

The SNP's cohort - with the exception of Alex Salmond - are all seeking re-election as is the solitary Tory.

Labour MSP Cathy Jamieson, the former Scottish justice minister, will fight Kilmarnock and Loudoun after former defence and Scottish secretary Des Browne announced he was quitting the seat.

And former civil servant and trade union official Michael McCann has been unveiled as the Labour candidate in East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, after former defence minister Adam Ingram also decided to quit as the sitting MP.

Labour paid tribute to Mr Griffiths as one of Scotland's most experienced parliamentarians.

And the party moved quickly to declare Labour support in Edinburgh South - which is being targeted by the other main parties in the forthcoming election - was "strong and growing".

Mr Griffiths, whose new post as director of an international education institution based in London, the United States and India, starts in June, said he firmly believed Labour would hold the seat.

The former councillor said: "After 30 years of continuously elected service in Edinburgh, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"It would not be right to delay accepting this position, since I want to give the party time to select a new candidate to fight the forthcoming election."

Trident protest

Mr Griffiths, a long-time friend of Gordon Brown, last year escaped a standards investigation after the News of the World reported he cheated on his wife inside the House of Commons.

In a statement following the newspaper's account of events on Remembrance Day in 2008 he said at the time: "I am, of course, ashamed that my conduct did fall below acceptable standards. I have little recollection of the evening but that does not make it right."

Last summer it was reported Mr Griffiths tried to defend a £3,600 claim for a television, DVD player and digital radio in his London home by saying he had to listen to "Scottish radio" and watch "Scottish TV".

He was said to have told the Commons fees office a flat-screen television was the "sensible option" in a cramped flat, but did not pursue the claim after being told that, while the explanation was understandable, the "level of purchases" remained under question.

Mr Griffiths has served as a minister for construction, competition and enterprise.

He became deputy Leader of the Commons in 2005, but quit two years later so he could vote against the government on Trident.

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