After 36 years, Yeo asks the daughter he gave away to contact him

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The Independent Online

Tim Yeo, the new shadow Health and Education Secretary, has disclosed that he would like to meet a long-lost daughter he gave up for adoption 36 years ago when he was a student.

Mr Yeo, 58, who has just been given the key portfolio by the new Conservative party leader Michael Howard, said yesterday that he had not stopped thinking about the daughter he fathered while at Cambridge University in 1967. At the time he thought it in the baby's interest to have her adopted.

Mr Yeo is in regular contact with his other love child, Claudia Marie, who was born 10 years ago as the product of an affair with a Tory councillor, Julia Stent. He also has two grown-up children, one of whom is the portrait painter Jonathan Yeo, with his wife Diane.

Mr Yeo ran into trouble with local Tories 10 years ago when news of his relationship with Ms Stent leaked and there were calls for him to be sacked.

But few people know that the MP for South Suffolk had previously fathered a child when he was 22 .

A spokesman for Mr Yeo said he did not want to discuss the matter in detail. But in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Yeo said that despite his eagerness to meet his daughter he would not want to cause disruption to her adopted family who now have full legal responsibility for her.

"Thirty-six years ago it seemed most responsible to give the baby girl up for adoption," he said.

"Of course, I want to know where she is. According to adoption laws, she will have to contact me. I'd love that. But she hasn't. I hope it's because she is incredibly happy and I don't want to spoil that, or to disrupt another family's life."

Mr Yeo also revealed that he remains friends with his adopted daughter's mother, who now has her own family. "I still see her mother; she now has children of her own, but we never discuss it. It's too personal," he said.

The Tory frontbencher is one of several senior parliamentarians who have yearned to see children they gave up for adoption before they entered politics.

Clare Short, the former International Development minister, was reunited in 1996 with her long-lost son whom she had put up for adoption when she was 18 in the 1960s. Toby Graham, a Tory supporter and City solicitor, now aged 37, decided to get in touch after the birth of his two daughters. The two are close friends and they have been seen walking arm in arm around the House of Commons.

In August this year it was revealed that Pauline Prescott, wife of the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, had had a child at the age of 16.

The Conservative-supporting army officer Paul Watton, who was given the MBE and OBE in recognition of his military service, had his identity revealed after the Prescotts agreed to lift a Press Complaints Commission injunction.

Mrs Prescott put her son, conceived with a young American, into a children's home after the father left and she and her family were struggling to make ends meet.