Michael Gove 'deeply regrets' taking cocaine 'on several occasions' as a young journalist
Conservative leadership hopeful Michael Gove has said he "deeply regrets" taking cocaine "on several occasions".
The Environment Secretary said he used the drug 20 years ago and branded it "a mistake".
Mr Gove told the Daily Mail: "I took drugs on several occasions at social events more than 20 years ago.
"At the time I was a young journalist. It was a mistake. I look back and think 'I wish I hadn't done that'."
He added: "It was 20 years ago and yes, it was a mistake. But I don't believe that past mistakes disqualify you."
The revelation comes as the contest to replace Theresa May is gathering pace with candidates arguing over the rights and wrongs of a so-called no-deal Brexit, or leaving the EU without a deal.
May stepped down as leader of the governing Conservatives on Friday, officially triggering a contest to replace her that could see her party embrace a tougher stance on Brexit.
Candidates must announce whether they are standing in the contest by Monday. The selection process should be completed by the end of July.
Gove said he hoped that the disclosure would not prevent him being appointed the next prime minister.
"Obviously it will be for my colleagues in parliament and members of the Conservative Party to decide now if I should be leader," he said. "I think all politicians have lives before politics.
It comes after fellow Tory contender Rory Stewart apologised for smoking opium at a wedding in Iran.
Speaking to Sky News last week, International Development Secretary Mr Stewart said: "I think it was a very stupid mistake and I did it 15 years ago, and I actually went on in Iran to see the damage that opium was doing to communities."
He added: "I've seen it as a prisons minister. It was something that was very wrong, I made a stupid mistake.
"I was at a wedding in a large community meeting and somebody passed this pipe around the room and I smoked it - I shouldn't have done, I was wrong."