Monday, November 9, 1998 Published at 21:30 GMT
Brown bids to end 'outing' row
Brown on the farm: Nick Brown (centre) visiting Devon on Monday
Downing Street and Agriculture Minister Nick Brown have moved to defuse the growing row over media coverage of his "outing" as gay by saying he has no intention of lodging a complaint about his treatment by the media.
A spokesman for the minister added that Mr Brown be not be making any further comment on his private life.
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott had turned angrily on newspapers, accusing them of acting like "judge, jury and executioner" and describing the whole affair as a "proper matter for the Press Complaints Commission".
The Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party Clive Soley demanded the PCC take a more pro-active stance by warning newspaper editors about privacy breaches before waiting to receive a formal complaint from their alleged victims.
But by Monday evening Downing Street was saying it was unlikely Mr Brown would even pursue a complaint to the PCC.
The agriculture minister's spokesman said: "Mr Brown has been very touched by the support he has received from close colleagues and from members of the public, including the farmers.
While on an official visit to a farm in Devon Mr Brown had said he had no intention of making any further statements about his private life, and that he just wanted "to get on with being farm minister".
Sun defends 'gay mafia' claim
Mr Brown's decision not to pursue any complaint pours cold water over a row that had been further inflamed by the decision of The Sun newspaper to print a front page editorial on Monday asking if the UK is run by a "gay mafia".
Another front-page splash last week had borne the giant, one-word headline "Outed" over photographs of two cabinet ministers.
He said: "I cannot see how you reach that conclusion. We have said all along that there is nothing wrong with being homosexual.
"But those who make decisions relating to our lives and laws should be more open about whether they are homosexual."
He insisted there was a risk gay ministers would work together and the public had a right to know their sexuality before they voted on subjects such as the lowering of the age of consent.
Mr Kavanagh claimed one in four cabinet ministers are gay: "There would be a story in the same way if you had four members who were all Etonians."
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