EXCLUSIVE: Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs is no longer the Vice Chief of Defence Force following a splendid fall from grace. Our investigative reporter, Rudy Terwilliger, takes a look.
It must have been mixed feelings for the departing Vice Chief of Defence Force (VCDF), Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs, at his splendid send-off hosted by the Royal Australian Navy on Tuesday, 24th July. A function, by invitation from the new Chief of Navy, Vice-Admiral Michael Noonan, was held in the VIP Lounge of 34 Squadron at RAAF Fairbairn in Canberra at $35 a head.
For Griggs there must have been some bitter regrets at what might have been. Insiders say his wife, Commander Chloe Griggs, formerly Chloe Wootten, nee Chloe Wilson, had been speculating to colleagues at the start of 2018 about the new furnishings she and her husband might need when they would move from VCDF’s residence to CDF’s mansion at Royal Military College, Duntroon in Canberra. Chloe, of course, knowing that the 2018 calendar for the ADF would involve the promotion of senior staff in the ADF into the roles of CDF and the heads of the service arms.
Alas it was not to be. Though favoured by both sides of politics, and particularly friendly with the current Minister for Defence, Marise Payne, Vice-Admiral Griggs could not withstand revelations, in February and March this year, of the salacious, sordid and tawdry beginnings to his current marriage.
It was The Australian which broke the story, well known at Australian Defence Force (ADF) senior officer level, of Griggs affair-turned-marriage to Commander Wootten. In the process destroying Wootten’s own marriage with young children, and causing Griggs first wife, Kerrie, to be forcibly removed from their house at Duntroon, via orders to VCDF’s Chief of Staff and the AFP.
Though Chloe’s former husband has honourably remained silent to protect his children from their mother’s sordid activities, Kerrie Griggs found the indignity a little too much to bear. In particular when she found a draft of a love note from her husband to his mistress, which referred to “That first kiss on the couch,” and, asks “Was it your tender touch? Is it your giggle, your smile, your laugh … is it the curve of your thigh, the taste of your desire?”.
The revelations in a series of articles in The Australian revealed the story of a long-term affair which destroyed two marriages, reportedly enhanced the career of Chloe Wootten, and ultimately sidelined the high ambitions of Ray Griggs. The whole saga was investigated by two separate independent reviews. One was to look at Griggs conduct from a moral standpoint, the other to look at whether there was appropriate use of position and entitlements. Neither review found fault with Vice-Admiral Griggs, though it took questions from a Senate Committee to even establish that such a situation even existed.
There is speculation that the story of Griggs’ affair-cum-marriage was leaked piecemeal by senior levels of the ADF. The rumours abound that Griggs is disliked by many in his own service, the Royal Australian Navy, and utterly despised within senior Australian Army ranks. Perhaps the Army won the day, Griggs had been a short-priced favourite for the CDF job, but instead it went to Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell.
Whatever the case may be, the now Mr and Mrs Griggs ambitions for the top job in the ADF have been thwarted. And that at least may be some satisfaction for those damaged in the process of this ignominious episode.