Gay Minister Steers Clear of Press Row; Complaint Is Unlikely as MPs Slam Media
Agriculture Minister Mr Nick Brown last night completed a business-as-usual tour of the West Country as the spotlight turned to media coverage of the disclosure of his homosexuality.
But despite the anger of some of his colleagues, led by Deputy Prime Minister Mr John Prescott, Downing Street said it was unlikely Mr Brown would pursue a complaint to the industry's Press Complaints Commission.
Mr Brown said he had been moved and touched by support from friends and colleagues after he issued a statement at the weekend confirming he was gay.
He refused to dwell on the episode, preferring to discuss the crisis in agriculture.
As Mr Brown toured farms in Devon, he said: "I want to get on with being Farm Minister. I do not want to say anything more about my private life or get embroiled in long arguments about it.
"The best way I can repay the support I have received is by being an effective Cabinet Minister and Agriculture Minister.
Earlier, South-west regional NFU director Anthony Gibson described as "a load of silly nonsense," the issue of Mr Brown's private life.
"We are not interested in the Minister's private life. We are interested in his public role as Minister of Agriculture," he said.
Labour and Tory MPs turned on the media, with one newspaper hinting it would be in a position to make further disclosures about Mr Brown and asking whether a "gay Mafia" was running Britain.
Mr Prescott earlier rounded on newspapers for acting as "judge, jury and executioner" over Mr Brown's revelation. But both he and Downing Street said they were not in favour of new privacy laws.
The intrusion into Mr Brown's private life was quite unacceptable, said Mr Prescott, who backed the move by Mr Clive Soley, chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, to refer the issue to the Press Complaints Commission. …