Lewd text MP Simon Danczuk confronted by protesters outside his Rochdale office
The under-fire politician has dismissed suggestions he is not fit to remain an MP
Simon Danczuk has been confronted by protesters outside his constituency office in Rochdale, after a wave of criticism over lewd texts he sent to a teenage girl.
The 49-year-old has dismissed suggestions he is not fit to remain as an MP, blaming a "drink problem" for the sexually-explicit messages he sent to Sophena Houlihan when she was 17.
He has been suspended from the Labour Party while an investigation takes place into his conduct, for which he has apologised "unreservedly".
Emerging from his constituency office, where protesters have gathered, Mr Danczuk insisted that allegations by ex-partners about his behaviour were irrelevant.
"It is not for ex-girlfriends or ex-wives to determine who the MP for Rochdale is. It is for the residents of Rochdale to determine who the MP for Rochdale is," he told reporters.
"I have been very clear about what issues I have addressed personally and I will continue to do so."
Mr Danczuk said he was planning to carry out visits in his constituency and "have a chat about it".
Mr Danczuk's comments came after his former partner, Claire Hamilton, said his admission of sending texts to Miss Houlihan led her to end their relationship shortly after Christmas.
Ms Hamilton told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "Simon hasn't got a stop button when he starts to drink. He will just keep consuming. If it's there, he'll drink it.
"He can be a very charming, funny, lovely person, and then sometimes when he's had a drink and he was stressed he would be very nasty and grumpy and someone you wouldn't want to be around.
Ex Labour cllr Farooq Ahmed calling for Danczuk's resignation among bemused passersby pic.twitter.com/xeY5eBSzvf— Josh Halliday (@JoshHalliday) January 4, 2016
"It was getting harder and harder to be in the relationship, to the point that when he did confess to texting a teenage girl, it was definitely over. That was the straw that broke the camel's back and I knew there was no going back to him."
Miss Houlihan, who is now 18, said Mr Danczuk sent her numerous messages, including one asking if she wanted a "spanking", after she contacted him about a job.
The father-of-five's personal life has repeatedly made the headlines over the past year following the collapse of his marriage to wife Karen, who was dubbed the selfie queen after posting numerous photographs of herself in low-cut tops.
Former Liberal Democrat member of Rochdale Council Liz Thirsk, one of the organisers of a protest outside Mr Danczuk's office, told Today the MP had to "tell us why he won't resign".
Responding to Mr Danczuk's explanation that he sent the texts when drunk, Ms Thirsk said: "If he was a school teacher would that be allowed, or if he was a social worker? Would the fact that I was drunk be an excuse?If you go up in court accused of a crime, would the fact that you were drunk excuse you? That can't be acceptable."
But Karen Danczuk told LBC radio that Mr Danczuk had worked himself "almost to death" to become an MP.
Scandal-hit Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk tells the BBC his constituents should be the ones to decide his future. pic.twitter.com/i4CXB5CDvC— North West Tonight (@BBCNWT) January 4, 2016
"Politics is his life and the threat of that one thing in his life, that keeps him going, being taken away from him, it has really, really shocked him and really upset him," she said.
"For me, I am glad he has been suspended in a way because he needs that break, he needs to sort himself out. I think he can make a comeback.
"I would hope people can get behind him and say this is a man who has had a very difficult 12 months, who has had to listen to some outrageous things."
Ms Danczuk said she went to church with Mr Danczuk on Sunday.
"He was very sombre ... the congregation was so supportive, and I think that overwhelmed Simon," she said.
"I am being firm with him and not making excuses for him and telling him what he did was wrong. But I do think that he can come back from it and I will absolutely be behind him 100%."
Meanwhile, Mr Danzcuk has reportedly written to Labour's general secretary, Iain McNicol, asking for former London mayor Ken Livingstone to play no part in his disciplinary process.
Mr Livingstone has been highly critical of the MP's behaviour.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Danczuk wrote to Mr McNicol: "I strongly deny any illegality in my actions. His comments were featured under critical headlines and clearly showed a prejudicial view of my case.
"Despite, voicing such trenchant criticism, he went on to say that 'I can't say too much because I'm on Labour's NEC and might have to take the final decision about whether he's allowed to resume his party membership or whether we expel him'.
"With Ken Livingstone having clearly displayed a prejudiced view from the outset, could you give me your assurances that he will play no part in this investigation."