LONDON Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Thursday he had gone public to deny rumors he was gay and in a relationship with an aide because he and his wife were fed up of the allegations.
Suggestions about Hague's sexuality surfaced in recent days after newspapers published pictures of the foreign secretary with his aide Christopher Myers and reported the men had shared a hotel room during campaigning for May's election.
Myers quit on Wednesday and Hague later issued a highly personal statement denying they had been involved in an improper relationship.
"My wife and I really felt we'd had enough of the circulation of untrue allegations, particularly on the internet, and at some point you have to speak out about that and put the record straight," he told a joint news conference with Germany's foreign minister in London.
In his statement, Hague rejected accusations that Myers, 25, had not been qualified to hold the post of special adviser.
"Any suggestion that his appointment was due to an improper relationship between us is utterly false, as is any suggestion that I have ever been involved in a relationship with any man," said Hague, 49.
"This speculation seems to stem from the fact that whilst campaigning before the election we occasionally shared twin hotel rooms. Neither of us would have done so if we had thought that it in any way meant or implied something else." As foreign secretary, Hague is one of the most senior figures in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government formed after the election.
"The work of the Foreign Office has not missed a beat and will not miss a beat at any stage," Hague said on Thursday. "I haven't spent any minutes away from all the duties of the foreign secretary."
Being gay would not in itself be a major political issue but any suggestion of impropriety such as securing an appointment for a lover or friend would be.
Prime Minister David Cameron has given Hague his "100 percent" support although the Guardian newspaper reported that Downing Street had agreed he needed to issue the detailed statement to kill off the potentially damaging rumors.
In May, treasury minister David Laws quit after it was revealed that he had claimed tens of thousands of pounds in parliamentary expenses for rent he passed on to his long-term male partner.
Laws said his motive had not been profit but to keep the relationship private. Last week prisons minister Crispin Blunt announced he was gay and was separating from his wife. He remains in the government.
Hague, a former Conservative Party leader who married in 1997, revealed his wife Ffion had suffered a number of miscarriages as he sought to quash the rumors that his marriage was in difficulty.
"We are aware that the stress of infertility can often strain a marriage, but in our case, thankfully, it has only brought us closer together," he said.
"We wish everyone to know that we are very happily married."
(Editing by Angus MacSwan; Editing by Jon Hemming)