Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, has five children by three different women, it was revealed last night.
The disclosure was an attempt to pre-empt a Sunday newspaper which had been investigating his personal life. As well as two children with his partner, Emma Beal, Mr Livingstone has three other children from two previous relationships. He has two daughters with one previous partner and a son with a third woman. Their identities have not been revealed. He was said last night to be an "involved father" who was in regular touch with all his children.
Mr Livingstone refused to comment directly on the disclosures in an interview last night with BBC London. He said: "I don't talk about my private life; it seems like only yesterday the press was trying to imply I was gay.
"I have never discussed my private life because it is not a relevant factor. I don't think anybody in this city will be shocked by what two consenting adults do, as long as you don't include children, animals and vegetables."
The Livingstone team is anxious to see whether the disclosure has any impact on the battle for City Hall on 1 May. A poll yesterday suggested Mr Livingstone, who has been Mayor since 2000, was one percentage point behind Boris Johnson, his Tory challenger.
Mr Livingstone dismissed the suggestion that the disclosure limited his ability to discuss moral issues and insisted he felt "no guilt whatsoever".
He said: "I'm quite happy with my private life and the people who have shared my private life over the last 40 years. I don't see any complaints, but all the people who have shared my private life at one point or another was on the basis it was private between us. And they don't expect me to be pontificating on TV about it."
Ms Beal and Mr Livingstone met 12 years ago and have two children, Thomas, five, and Mia, four. Ms Beal now helps to run his office.
The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats refused to comment last night.Reuse content