Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 14:33 UK

Clegg sex quiz openness defended

Nick Clegg with wife Miriam
Nick Clegg said he fell in love at first sight with wife Miriam

Senior Lib Dems have defended leader Nick Clegg after he made frank comments about his sexual history.

In an interview with GQ magazine, Mr Clegg revealed he had slept with "no more than 30" women but said he fell in love at first sight with wife Miriam.

Health spokesman Norman Lamb said Mr Clegg was "very open about things".

Housing spokesman Lembit Opik - whose own love life has recently been in the headlines - said it showed "you can be a human being and a party leader".

In an interview with former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, to be published in the May issue of GQ, Mr Clegg recalls being "pretty gobsmacked" on first meeting Miriam, when they were both studying in Belgium.

After first wooing her in French, he learnt to speak Spanish for her sake, he said, adding he regarded her as the "love of his life".

'Content and happy'

He then responded to a series of increasingly personal questions from Mr Morgan, who asked whether he was "good in bed".

"I don't think I am particularly brilliant or particularly bad," said the Lib Dem leader, adding: "Since the only judge of that is my wife..."

Mr Morgan insisted that there had been other women in his life and Mr Clegg replied: "Yes OK, well, not for a very long time."

Morgan asked to know how many, but Mr Clegg attempted to brush off the question by answering: "Not a list as long as yours, I'm sure."

But the former Mirror editor forced the issue, asking: "How many are we talking: 10, 20, 30?"

"No more than 30," replied Mr Clegg, adding: "It's a lot less than that."

Piers Morgan: "Ever had any complaints?"

Nick Clegg: "Oh God yes, of course."

PM: "What would your wife say?"

NC: "I think she'd be very content and happy."

PM: "Would you ever be unfaithful to her?"

NC: "I certainly hope not."

Drugs question

The Lib Dem leader was also asked about his alcohol intake.

He said he did not drink every day and was last drunk "probably last summer... drinking wine with my family in France".

He said his predecessor Charles Kennedy's drink problem was "very difficult and unpleasant, for him and the party". But he refused to discuss whether he had ever taken illegal drugs, insisting that "what I got up to as a teenager is not relevant to my job now".

Norman Lamb defended Mr Clegg for talking about his sexual history, but suggested that he hadn't "thought through" the consequences.

Media treatment

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Nick is a guy who is just very open about things and he doesn't, he doesn't sort of think through the nuanced consequences of answering a question as honestly as he can.

"Nick tried to be absolutely straight in everything that he does, and that might sometimes get him into trouble but he will build a reputation for being honest and straightforward."

Lembit Opik - whose relationship with Cheeky Girl Gabriela Irimia is rarely out of the headlines - criticised the media's treatment of his party leader.

He told BBC Radio: "Nick Clegg is actually living evidence that you can be a human being and a party leader.

"So as far as I'm concerned, I haven't got any choice, you people always talk about my private life, so Nick Clegg is the kind of guy who says, 'Look, this is my life, this is what I think, and this is my politics.'"

Mr Opik said last month he is taking legal advice on newspaper claims about his private life by his former fiance, ITV weather presenter Sian Lloyd.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown refused to comment on whether Mr Clegg's comments were appropriate for a senior politician when asked earlier at his monthly press conference in Downing Street.

First 100 days: Nick Clegg
27 Mar 08 |  UK Politics
The Nick Clegg story
19 Dec 07 |  UK Politics
Clegg 'does not believe in God'
19 Dec 07 |  UK Politics

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific