Tories engulfed in shame: 'I had another illegitimate child' - Yeo

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TIM YEO, the disgraced former Environment Minister, admitted last night that he had fathered a second illegitimate child.

Four days after the MP resigned over his affair with Julia Stent, a Tory councillor, he disclosed that he had a 26-year-old daughter who was adopted at birth.

In a surprisingly candid interview he revealed he had a child in the mid-1960s with a fellow student at Cambridge University. Mr Yeo became a father at the age of 22, when she was 21, he said told the Mail on Sunday.

He said: 'Neither of us was certain whether our relationship would last and we therefore made arrangements for the baby to be adopted soon after birth. That was 26 years ago, and she has no idea of the identity of her natural parents.'

Mr Yeo said his relationship with the mother, which lasted from 1966 to 1969, ended 18 months after the birth. He and the mother finished their studies and moved to London where they continued their relationship, but lived apart. The woman has since married. Mr Yeo said his first daughter was born on August 6, 1967, and was adopted almost immediately.

The former minister said he met his wife, Diane, in 1969 and told her of his past. 'She showed great understanding and was, and has remained, very supportive.'

As last night's revelations sent fresh shock waves through the Conservative party, Peter Bottomley, the former minister, gave his support to his friend Tim Yeo while other MPs expressed 'disappointment and upset'.

Mr Bottomley, MP for Eltham, said: 'I think it is brave to be open in the present climate. Perhaps he had no alternative. If we are at the stage where there is no more to learn, I hope he can be allowed to serve his constituents and I hope people's private lives, unless they are openly in conflict with their public responsibilities, can be left private.'

The Mail on Sunday said Mr Yeo had spoken to his student lover in the past few days, as it became clear that the facts of their relationship were about to become public knowledge.

According to the newspaper, the 48-year-old MP for South Suffolk was this weekend deciding whether his future was with Miss Stent, a Hackney councillor, with whom he admitted fathering a five-month- old daughter. The newspaper said Mr Yeo would now not be making a Commons statement to explain himself.

Mr Yeo paid tribute to Miss Stent, describing her as 'an exceptionally conscientious mother'. He added: 'Her strength of character shows clearly in the dignity, loyalty and discretion with which she coped with her pregnancy and with the recent extra pressure on her and on her family, who have given great support.' Mr Yeo also praised his wife, with whom he had had two children.

He admitted that ministers should lead by example, and individuals accept responsibility for their actions.

'I am not seeking sympathy and recognise that of the three of us I am the least deserving of sympathy. But I suspect, even for me, I think people will recognise I have paid a heavy price. I have given up a post I spent 20 years trying to gain.'

Meanwhile David Evans, recently elected to the executive of the influential 1922

Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, said the latest revelation was 'a further smack in the face' and were 'disappointing and very upsetting'.

Mr Evans said Mr Yeo should have stepped down well before Christmas 'and in my view should have been asked to step down last summer when those in office knew perfectly well what had happened'.

Another Tory MP, Emma Nicholson, was concerned about the effect of the media spotlight on children born out of wedlock to politicians. She said she was 'desperately concerned' at the psychological pain they had to endure.

Miss Nicholson said she intended asking the Lord Chancellor about a possible amendment to the Children Act to protect such children.