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Tories turn on Hague over hotel room 'foolishness'

By Kim Sengupta

William Hague's judgment was questioned publicly by senior Conservative figures yesterday after admitting that he shared a hotel room with a young male adviser.

John Redwood and Norman Tebbit, former Conservative cabinet ministers, both said Mr Hague's conduct and subsequent statement about his marriage had raised doubts about the foreign secretary.

There was speculation that Mr Hague could ultimately quit politics over the controversy, but aides dismissed the suggestions.

In a highly personal statement on Wednesday, Mr Hague denied any "improper" relationship with Christopher Myers (25), but admitted that they had shared hotel rooms during the general election campaign this year. Mr Myers resigned from his role this week.

Mr Hague also gave intimate details about his marriage, revealing that his wife, Ffion, had suffered "multiple miscarriages".

It is understood that Mr Hague made his unusual public statement against the advice of government media experts.

Instead of ending speculation about the matter, the statement attracted extensive public attention and political comment.

Mr Redwood, a former Welsh secretary, said: "Mr Hague himself now seems to understand that it was poor judgment to share a hotel room with an assistant."

Mr Tebbit, a former party chairman, said Mr Hague had been "naive at best, foolish at worst".

Ed Balls, a Labour leadership candidate, said that Mr Hague had been unwise and had drawn further attention to his private life and the rumours about him.

"I'm not sure whether going out and making a public statement in that detail is the wisest thing to do," he said.

"I think it probably gives more credibility to some of these websites and to allegations which aren't true."

Despite the public criticism of Mr Hague, many Conservative MPs and activists remained supportive of the minister, who is one of the most popular party figures among the Tory grassroots.

Privately, one cabinet minister suggested that the intense focus on his private life had "got too much" for Mr Hague.

The minister added: "He wanted to put an end to all the speculation once and for all.

"The media advisers would obviously say 'don't do this, it will become a bigger issue', but he felt very strongly that this was the right way to go."

Mr Hague himself caused speculation about his willingness to stay in politics when he appeared to sympathise with Mr Myers's decision to quit.

Mr Hague said: "He is clearly someone who is rather fed up with politics -- and who can blame him?"

Yesterday Mr Hague defended his decision to reveal so much information about his private life.

He said: "My wife and I felt we'd really had enough of the circulation of untrue allegations, particularly on the internet. At some point you have to speak out about that to put the record straight."

Downing Street said that David Cameron had confidence in Mr Hague.

"The prime minister totally understands why William made the statement he did and he backs him 100pc," a spokesman said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Source Irish Independent

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