Birmingham & Black Country

Kitten theft case: I am no role model, says MP Hemming

John Hemming and Emily Cox
Image caption Mr Hemming and Ms Cox have known each other for 13 years and have a four-year-old daughter together

A Birmingham MP whose wife burgled the home of his mistress and took her kitten has claimed his private life has no impact on his role as an MP.

John Hemming's wife Christine was convicted of burgling Emily Cox's home days after he had moved out.

During a three-day trial, a court heard how Mr Hemming, his former personal assistant Ms Cox and his wife had been involved in a "love triangle".

The Liberal Democrat said his love life was irrelevant to his public role.

Christine Hemming was filmed on CCTV on 29 September, 2010 entering Ms Cox's home uninvited and leaving a few minutes later with a kitten.

'Serve their constituents'

Hemming told Birmingham Crown Court she had gone to the house, which her husband had bought for his lover, in order to deliver his post.

She said she had "no recollection of taking" the kitten and had even tried to return it. The cat, named Beauty, is still missing.

Speaking after the trial which ended on Friday, Birmingham Yardley MP Mr Hemming said: "I really don't think [people] should be voting for members of Parliament on their abilities to be role models of rectitude.

"You elect people to serve their constituents."

Mr Hemming, of Moseley, Birmingham, denied reports he had 26 mistresses while he was married.

He said: "I've always told people that's not actually true and yet that keeps on being reported."

Image caption Christine Hemming said she tried to return the cat which is still missing

Under oath, his wife told the court their relationship had deteriorated after Mr Hemming had made her aware of his 26 other liaisons, including the relationship with Ms Cox.

Mr Hemming met Christine at a conference in Bridlington and they married in 1981.

He now has a four-year-old daughter with Ms Cox.

The MP told the BBC that marriage was like a covenant or "unbreakable contract" but if something went wrong with that "agreement" the couple involved had the right to deal with it privately.

He also said that he had deliberately chosen not to disclose information about his private life in recent years, despite entering himself into a News of The World Competition for Love Rat of the Year in 2005.

He said: "Freedom of speech is the right to tell the truth, not the same as the right to know - it doesn't give them the right to know minute details about people's lives."

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Media captionEmily Cox: "A year later, my daughter is still asking where her kitten is"

He also said discussing his home life was not a requirement of public office.

"You have to live with a certain amount of attention on what you do but that doesn't mean you have to tell everyone everything," he added.

Ms Cox said she had no feelings of guilt about her affair with Mr Hemming.

She said: "I'll never ever regret my daughter but I do understand it must have been stressful for Christine."

She said the MP's wife had not seemed to object to the affair at the time and had been "perfectly aware of the situation".

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