UK Deputy Party Leader: The Sun Blackmailed Me Into Coming Out

If you think the tabloids in this country are ruthless, you should see how they operate in Merry Old England. Last week Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, admitted to Parliament that he outed himself as bisexual in the Sun after he was notified the paper had dirt on his same-sex leanings and was going to run something with or without his cooperation.
Though Hughes (right) went on record with the Sun, the paper still ran a salacious story with the headline “Hughes: I’ve Had Gay Sex.”
According to The Guardian, he came clean about the Sun‘s sleazy tactics during an inquiry stemming from the News of the World‘s phone-hacking scandal. Hughes maintained he gave an interview to reporter Trevor Kavanagh after someone else from the newspaper told him the Sun had records showing the MP had used a service called Man Talk.

“[He] told me that the Sun had telephone calls records showing that I had called a gay chatline,” Hughes told the inquiry. “Although I thought then, and still believe, that my sexuality is a private matter, I immediately admitted to this.”

Obtaining unauthorized phone records is a crime in Britain under the Data Protection Act of 1988, but there is an exemption for journalist operating in the public interest. Hughes told the Guardian, however, that his sexuality was a private matter and not newsworthy. At the time he was the odds-on favorite to be elected leader of his party but, after the Sun story broke, he lost by a significant margin. “It was a character assassination, not backed up by anything,” claims Hughes.

Prior to the Sun story, Hughes publicly denied being gay in interviews—one of which ran in the Independent just a week before his admission.  He now says he is bisexual, telling The Daily Telegraph that it shouldn’t be a barrier to public office, but that he was wrong to deny it to the press for so long. “I gave a reply that wasn’t untrue but was clearly misleading. I apologise.”  

Photo via Southbanksteve