Monday, November 29

Culture Secretary under pressure after relationship with dominatrix revealed


 

 

John Whittingdale John Whittingdale, the Culture Secretary, last night admitted he had been in a relationship with a sex worker.

The Cabinet minister released a statement stating that he did not know about the woman’s occupation when they were together and that he ended the relationship as soon as he was made aware of her job.

It is believed that the woman, who Mr Whittingdale was with between 2013 and 2014, worked as a professional dominatrix.

He said that he met the woman through an online dating website and admitted that the “old story” was “embarrassing”.

Mr Whittingdale, who was promoted to the Cabinet after last year’s election, said he was only made aware that the woman was a sex worker when somebody tried to sell a story about the issue to a tabloid newspaper.

The BBC claimed that a number of newspapers had not printed the story despite having details about Mr Whittingdale’s relationship.

The Corporation said that it raises questions about whether media organisations had decided not to publish the story because Mr Whittingdale’s brief includes regulation of the press in the wake of the phone hacking scandal and the subsequent Leveson inquiry into press standards.

Mr Whittingdale said that “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.”

Downing Street told the BBC that Mr Whittingdale, who is divorced, did not inform them of his relationship with a sex worker when he was made Culture Secretary.

Mr Whittingdale said: “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. At no time did she give me any indication of 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.”

“It seems the press were quite deliberately holding a sword of Damocles over John Whittingdale. He has a perfect right to a private life but as soon as he knew this he should have withdrawn from all regulation of the press.” Shadow cabinet minister Chris Bryant

Downing Street said Mr Whittingdale “is a single man entitled to a private life” and that he had the full confidence of David Cameron.

Shadow cabinet minister Chris Bryant, who was Labour’s shadow culture secretary until last year, said: “It seems the press were quite deliberately holding a sword of Damocles over John Whittingdale.

“He has a perfect right to a private life but as soon as he knew this he should have withdrawn from all regulation of the press.”

Before becoming Culture Secretary, Mr Whittingdale served as chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport committee for a decade.

His promotion to the Cabinet came as a shock to many in the Conservative Party. It is understood that Boris Johnson turned down the role before it was offered to Mr Whittingdale.