Self-confessed ‘love rat' John Hemming, Liberal Democrat member for Yardley in Birmingham, has three children with his wife Christine and a daughter with his former PA Emily Cox, who lives near his marital home in the city.
Christine Hemming, 50, made a brief appearance before Birmingham magistrates yesterday accused of burglary and theft of ‘a tabby kitten to the value of £20'. It is understood the alleged break-in happened on September 29, at night when the property was otherwise empty.
She was granted conditional bail until December 16, when the case is due to be committed to crown court.
Yesterday a source close to the case told the Daily Mail that Mrs Hemming, a senior partner in a recruitment agency, is thought to have released the kitten into the wild.Mr Hemming, 50, confirmed that the tabby, named Beauty, had vanished from his 35-year-old lover's home in the affluent Moseley area.
He said: ‘I have been spending some time looking for a kitten and I would be quite pleased to get her back. She has a brother called Twinkle who is pining for her.'
Mr Hemming added that he would be prepared to pay a reward for the kitten's safe return and has posted an appeal for information alongside a picture of the animal on his website. Miss Cox returned to her home last night with Mr Hemming, saying: ‘My daughter wants her cat back.'
When news of her husband's relationship with Miss Cox emerged in 2005, weeks after he became Birmingham's first Lib Dem MP, Mrs Hemming said she would stand by him. She described the affair as ‘about number 26' in his list of infidelities. Asked yesterday which of the women he was living with, the MP replied: ‘That's an interesting question and one I won't be drawn on.'
A source close to the MP said of his living arrangements: ‘John's love life is tangled to say the least.
‘He has been living in two places for a long, long time, apparently maintaining relationships with Emily and Christine. He hasn't formally split up with either woman, but when his wife is accused of stealing his girlfriend's kitten, it cannot be easy to maintain good relationships with both.'
After admitting fathering Miss Cox's child, Mr Hemming went on to vote for himself in a newspaper's Love Rat of the Year contest.His wife backed him in a failed attempt at becoming Lib Dem leader following the resignation of Charles Kennedy in 2006.
Last night, Mrs Hemming said her husband still lived with her at their eight-bedroom home but that she was now looking into a formal separation.‘John has been trying to play both sides,' she said.
‘I only recently came to realise just how I have been put into a vulnerable and exploited position and how dangerous that is.
‘He would say to me that he was going to a political meeting or shopping and he was going to her house. He probably told her the same thing. Relations between Emily and I deteriorated significantly.
‘I think she expected any minute that she will have a partner living with her and the baby.
‘In the press it's known that John has had affairs and I have gone along with it but I only went along with it because he has been honest. I have always thought a lot of men who do that.
‘It's better to know about it than not. But when it comes to things he is doing that causes physical, emotional and reputational harm, there is nothing worth continuing with in the relationship.'She admitted it had been a ‘mistake' to take the cat, and offered to buy Miss Cox a new pet to make amends.
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