Tuesday 21 February 2017

Labour MP and wife to spilt over bodyguard affair

Protection officer faces axe after having affair with Johnson's wife and constituency secretary

David Barrett and Patrick Sawer

Published 23/01/2011 | 05:00

ALAN Johnson's wife has asked for a divorce, as the scandal surrounding the former shadow chancellor deepened with the revelation that his police bodyguard had affairs with both the MP's wife and secretary.

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Mr Johnson resigned last week in the wake of his wife Laura's relationship with his protection officer, PC Paul Rice, who sources said was now almost certain to lose his job.

Friends of the senior Labour politician said Mrs Johnson, 47, believes her marriage is over and wants a divorce.

A close friend of the couple said she did not believe there was any future for the marriage.

"She wants a divorce," they said. "It has been hell for Alan and you can see why he felt he had no choice other than to leave his job."

Pc Rice, Mr Johnson's former protection officer, had an affair with Mrs Johnson and his constituency assistant Tracy Windle, 50.

Miss Windle, who is single and lives with her father and brother in Hull, was said to be heartbroken after being betrayed by PC Rice, who is divorced and in his 40s.

As part of a small team of officers who provided "close protection" for Mr Johnson during his year as Home Secretary, PC Rice would have been required to guard the politician's family home in south London.

The constable was suspended over the allegations and one senior Metropolitan Police source predicted his career was now over.

"I would be amazed if Paul Rice is still a police officer in three months' time," said the source.

He said the scandal raised questions about whether Scotland Yard's Specialist Protection Unit required a major shake-up, with news of the affairs coming just weeks after it was criticised for allowing a Royal convoy carrying the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to be attacked by student protesters.

"People are already asking questions about how the protection command operates and this is going to shake the tree, without a shadow of a doubt," the source added.

Mr Johnson and his wife separated last week, days before he resigned as shadow chancellor, forcing Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, into a front bench reshuffle just three months after he named his shadow cabinet.

The separation came after the former Home Secretary discovered his wife had been having an affair, although it was unclear whether Mrs Johnson asked for a divorce before or after the resignation announcement.

Mr Johnson telephoned his two grown up children from his first marriage, son Jamie, 39, a record producer, and daughter Emma, 41, to let them know what had been going on.

He then informed Mr Miliband to let him know he was to quit front line politics.

Last night Mr Johnson's first wife Judith, who has herself remarried, talked of the emotional and family turmoil behind the decision.

Speaking of her sorrow at the break-up of his second marriage Judith Merritt, who married the future shadow chancellor in 1969, said she sympathised with what he was going through.

"It's very sad and I do feel for him. It's a very difficult situation and I wish him well.

Mrs Merritt, who raised three children with Mr Johnson before they split in 1988, said she had been told of the break-up by their daughter Emma at the start of last week.

The pair remain on cordial terms and last saw each other last summer, at a memorial service for Mrs Merritt's daughter, Natalie, from a previous relationship, who Alan Johnson adopted when she was two years old.

Natalie died from a blood disorder in 1999, a week before Mr Johnson was given his first ministerial post.

© Telegraph

Sunday Independent

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