LONDON -- Environment Minister Tim Yeo, who has criticized the growing number of single mothers in Britain, said in a statement published Sunday that he has a 5-month-old daughter from an extra- marital affair.
'My wife and family are aware of the extent of our relationship,' Yeo's statement to the News of the World tabloid newspaper read. 'I regard my relationship with Julia Stent as an entirely private matter which has no bearing upon our respective political duties.'
The statement casts a question mark over the political future of the minister who has called for the need to reduce the number of broken families and single parents in Britain.
The News of the World used the affair in an editorial to draw a critical parallel with U.S. President Bill Clinton, who faces allegations of sexual misconduct.
The minister previously worked in the Department of Health and was posted to the Department of the Environment seven months ago, working under Environment Secretary John Gummer.
The mother of Yeo's child is an unmarried north London Conservative Party councillor, who is reported to have known the minister since 1991.
Yeo, 48, confirmed his close relationship with Julia Stent had developed into an affair, that he was the father of their daughter and that he remained a close friend of the woman.
'Julia had herself decided not publicly to identify the father of her child and strongly resents that, in order to put an end to speculation in some quarters of the media, she now finds it necessary to do so,' Yeo's statement read.
'My wife and family are aware of the extent of our relationship,' Yeo said.
'I regard my relationship with Julia Stent as an entirely private matter which has no bearing upon our respective political duties,' he said.
British Prime Minister John Major and senior Cabinet members have been informed of the statement.
Yeo has two children with his wife Diane, who is reported to be standing by him.