Downing Street has backed Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly after it emerged he hired a firm of private detectives to carry out undercover investigations of his aides and colleagues.
The Prime Minister's spokesman conceded that the Tory MP may have "overreacted" after rumours appeared about him in the press, but said he still had David Cameron's "full confidence".
Mr Djanogly was forced to defend his actions after the Daily Telegraph obtained a copy of the report by Morris Chase International.
It showed the then-shadow solicitor general had instructed the firm to conduct "discreet inquiries under the pretext of writing a newspaper article" last year to establish the views of people including a former council leader.
The company said all the information was obtained legally and the Huntingdon MP insisted he would "never have contemplated condoning anything unlawful or dishonest".
But one of those targeted, Tory ex-leader of Huntingdon council Derek Holley, called on Mr Djanogly to "consider his position" in government.
"Quite frankly I was just appalled by it all," Mr Holley told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "I have been in local politics and associated with national politics for 34 years, and I have never, ever experienced anything like this in the whole of that time."
In a statement Mr Djanogly said: "Following a series of malicious allegations made against me in newspapers last year, I felt I had to act to find out who was spreading these untrue stories.
"I instructed a firm of private investigators to try to find out the source of these stories because I was extremely upset that my private family life had been invaded.
"A report of their investigation was prepared and sent to me on a confidential basis and I am very disappointed to see the report released publicly without my consent."