A Conservative cabinet minister has admitted cheating on his partner after it emerged he was warned that a Tory aide was trying to blackmail him.
Robert Halfon, deputy chairman of the Conservatives and minister without portfolio Friends of Israel and the descendant of Libyan Jews, was reportedly filmed as he left a club with the woman.
Mr Halfon, released a statement through the party after reports he had a relationship with a Tory activist during the election campaign behind the back of his long-term partner.
“What I did was wrong, and I feel ashamed. I am not proud of myself. The most important thing to me is to continue to repair my relationship with my partner,” the 46-year-old said.
Halfon, who was promoted after gaining a reputation as a strong campaigner, revealed the affair following a report in the Mail on Sunday that a Tory election aide, Mark Clarke, had been scheming to blackmail him.
The report alleged he had been warned before the election in May that Clarke was attempting to obtain photos of him and the woman coming out of the East India Club.
Clarke has been suspended by the Consevatives while he is investigated over claims of bullying a 21-year-old activist, Elliott Johnson, who is believed to have killed himself in September.
Clarke strongly denies all allegations of bullying, harassment and attempted blackmail.
A Conservative statement said: “The Conservative party received a serious complaint against Mark Clarke in August 2015. Lord Feldman, the party chairman, immediately authorised an investigation into that complaint, and disciplinary proceedings have begun.
“Mark Clarke’s membership of the party, and his involvement with the party, have been suspended pending the outcome of those proceedings, which are in progress. Mr Clarke was also forbidden to attend the Conservative party conference.
“If the allegations against Mr Clarke are found to be true, the party board will permanently exclude Mr Clarke from the party. There would be no prospect of Mr Clarke being allowed to apply to be a Conservative party candidate of any kind, or to represent the party in any respect, again.”