Cameron under pressure as Tory rivals deny drug use

Mr Cameron has kept silent about rumours buzzing around Whitehall. He and his campaign team argue that answering one question about his personal life will simply invite more.

Last night he once again refused to answer the question of whether he had taken drugs, saying that politicians should be allowed to "err and stray " before they enter public life.

David Dimbleby asked him whether he had ever taken Class A drugs. Speaking on Question Time, Mr Cameron replied: "I have not answered the question about drugs because I think that is all in the past and I don't think you have to answer it. We're both allowed to have had a private life before politics in which we make mistakes and we do things that we should not and we are all human and we err and stray."

But Liam Fox, one of the outsiders in the leadership contest, confirmed to journalists that he had never taken class A drugs. The former GP said: " I've seen too many people suffering from the effects of drugs brought into A&E."

His assertion followed a comment by another leadership candidate, Kenneth Clarke, who said he had never taken cocaine.

Edward Leigh, a senior backbencher, urged Mr Cameron to answer the same question. "I think it does matter. He should tell the truth," Mr Leigh said. Despite the questions over his past, Mr Cameron's position in the leadership race was looking stronger than ever after two MPs who voted for Mr Clarke in previous contests, Jacqui Lait and Robert Key, came out for him. He now has the public backing of 34 MPs. Mr Cameron had a private meeting yesterday with the media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

The front-runner, David Davis, whose campaign appeared to have hit the rocks after a disappointing performance at the annual conference, gained the support of one of the new MPs, James Brokenshire, to bring his total to 66. Mr Clarke and Mr Fox are now in a close race to avoid being eliminated in the first ballot on Tuesday. When nominations closed at noon yesterday, no other MPs had decided to join the race.

Mr Clarke was boosted by a letter from 50 leaders of Tory groups on borough and district councils. It said he was "the only candidate with the combination of experience, energy and popular appeal that we need". His team also released a letter of support from eight Tory peers.

But Mr Clarke came under attack over his role as a non-executive deputy chairman of British American Tobacco. Writing in the British Medical Journal, Mike Daube, professor of health policy at a university in Perth, Australia, said: "If he is elected, companies such as BAT will flourish with access at the highest levels, while their products kill more and more millions."

Dr Fox closed the gap on Mr Clarke by announcing the names of four previously uncommitted MPs who vowed to vote for him. This brought his total of known supporters to 20, compared to 23 for Mr Clarke. So far, 143 out of 197 MPs have said who they are supporting.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Floyd Mayweather will relinquish his five world titles after beating Manny Pacquiao
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living