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John Whittingdale Culture Secretary

Culture secretary urged to give up press regulation duties over relationship with sex worker


By John Glenday, Reporter

April 13, 2016 | 2 min read

Culture secretary John Whittingdale is being urged to relinquish his responsibilities relating to regulation of the press. It comes amidst accusations that he may have been inclined to adopt a laxer stance than might otherwise have been the case, owing to a six month relationship with a brothel worker.

Whittingdale, who is divorced, met the woman through but states that he was oblivious to her chosen line of work until a number of national newspapers began investigating the story – which they ultimately did not run with for the story not being in the public interest.

In a statement Whittingdale said: “Between August 2013 and February 2014, I had a relationship with someone who I first met through She was a similar age and lived close to me. 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. 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.”

Shadow cabinet minister Chris Bryant wasn’t satisfied with this response, however, saying: “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 He has a perfect right to a private life but as soon as he knew this he should have withdrawn from all regulation of the press.”

BBC Newsnight reported that the People, the Sun and Mail on Sunday had all investigated the story but declined to publish anything after deciding that it was not in the public interest to do so.

John Whittingdale Culture Secretary

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