The Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott today admitted having a two-year affair with one of his secretaries.
Mr Prescott, 67, and Tracey Temple, 43, started meeting in secret at his Government-owned flat after their fling began at an office party.
He told the Daily Mirror: "I did have a relationship with her which I regret. It ended some time ago. I have discussed this fully with my wife Pauline who is devastated by the news.
"I would be grateful if Pauline and I can now get on with our lives together."
Downing Street refused to comment on the revelations this morning, with a spokesman saying only: "It is a private matter."
Father-of-two Mr Prescott, who has been married for more than 44 years, began working with Ms Temple when she was appointed as his assistant private secretary, with special responsibility for organising his diary.
She had previously worked as diary secretary for former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam and was said to be close friends with the Labour MP, who died last year.
The divorcee lives in Bordon, Hampshire, with lorry driver Barrie Williams, 46.
Mr Williams told the Mirror: "I feel sick. I can't believe the woman I wanted to marry has slept with John Prescott.
"I've been betrayed by one of the most powerful men in the UK."
The Mirror reported that civil service colleagues were shocked by the way that Mr Prescott flirted with Ms Temple at work.
They were said to have started the affair at the office Christmas party in 2002 when they danced together most of the night.
A colleague said she had later seen the diary secretary "nuzzle" Mr Prescott's neck in the lift.
She said she thought it was "inappropriate".
Mr Prescott was reported to have laughed off the incident as a "bit of messing about" but three days later was said to be "livid" when office gossip claimed they were having an affair.
However, the newspaper said they then embarked on a full-blown relationship with Ms Temple making regular visits to the Deputy Prime Minister's official flat in Admiralty Arch.
Mr Prescott stood by his wife when it emerged in 2003 that she had had a son who she gave up for adoption more than 40 earlier when she was an unmarried 17-year-old.
Outside the Deputy Prime Minister's home in Hull today uniformed police were on guard, but there was no sign of Mr and Mrs Prescott.
Three officers were patrolling the street outside the large detached house in the Sutton area of the city.
The two sets of gates in front of the turreted property were firmly closed.
Mr Prescott's constituency home hit the headlines during last year's General Election campaign when Greenpeace activists stormed his front gates and set up solar panels on its roof.
Today, there was no sign of any activity behind the six-foot tall black gates.