A disgraced political adviser accused of offering ministerial access for sex has said he is now undergoing psychiatric treatment.
Brian Crowe, a rising star in the Ulster Unionist Party and former Church of Ireland minister, has apologised for sending "inappropriate photographs" to a woman on an internet chatroom.
The married 40 year old was sacked as political adviser to Ulster Unionist Stormont minister Danny Kennedy after he was accused of claiming to have offered political favours for sex.
Mr Crowe apologised to his loved ones and former colleagues for any hurt caused but characterised his online claim as "fantasy chat".
"I would like to make a full, public apology for actions which have been the subject of newspaper stories in recent days," he said. "My habitual use of online pornography and chat rooms has impacted upon my home life and caused immense hurt to those I love the most. In particular, I would like to apologise directly and wholeheartedly to my wife and thank her for her support at this time.
"I have also betrayed the trust placed in me by the Minister for Employment and Learning, the Ulster Unionist Party and the Bishop and Diocese of Connor. I apologise to everyone who has been affected by my misconduct."
His party was left stunned by the revelations which come just weeks before the May 5 Assembly election.
Commenting on the scandal, Mr Crowe said: "Last year I formed an online relationship with a person, exchanged inappropriate photographs and engaged in a series of online chats which I viewed as fantasy chat. I told this individual that I delivered political favours for sex. This statement is untrue. I was indulging in a disordered online fantasy.
"I apologise unreservedly for the embarrassment, hurt and upset these false claims will have caused."
In the wake of the newspaper headlines over Mr Crowe's private life, Stormont's Employment and Learning Minister sacked his adviser, stating that he believed Mr Crowe's role had become untenable. The Church of Ireland also announced that Mr Crowe was to be suspended from his voluntary role in the church in Lisburn, Co Down.