Tory minister admits he had relationship with prostitute
Published 13/04/2016 | 02:30
British Culture Secretary John Whittingdale has disclosed that he had a relationship with a prostitute.
Mr Whittingdale, who is single, said in a statement that he had been unaware of the woman's occupation and had broken off the relationship when he discovered she was trying to sell the story to the press.
The relationship occurred before he became a minister, although he was chairman of the influential Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee at the time.
"Between August 2013 and February 2014, I had a relationship with someone who I first met through Match.com. She was a similar age and lived close to me," he said.
"At no time did she give me any indication of her real occupation and I only discovered this when I was made aware that someone was trying to sell a story about me to tabloid newspapers. As soon as I discovered, I ended the relationship.
"This is an old story which was a bit embarrassing at the time. The events occurred long before I took up my present position and it has never had any influence on the decisions I have made as Culture Secretary."
BBC2' s Newsnight reported that The People, The Mail on Sunday, The Sun and The Independent on Sunday had all investigated the claims but had concluded it was not a public interest story.
However, campaigners for tighter press regulation accused the papers of hypocrisy, pointing out that as chairman of the Culture Committee, Mr Whittingdale had opposed statutory regulation.
Brian Cathcart of the 'Hacked Off' campaign group said that since becoming Culture Secretary with responsibility for the media, he had taken a number of decisions which had been welcomed by the press.
"The public cannot have faith in his judgment, in his independence in making decisions about the media," he said.