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Report: Downing Street dismisses calls for John Whittingdale to step away from press regulation

A spokesman for Downing Street dismissed calls for John Whittingdaleto step down from his duties of press regulation after it emerged that he had beenin a relationship with a sex worker, The DailyTelegraph (London) reported April 13.

The culture secretary admitted to having been in a relationshipwith a woman before he became a minister between August 2013 and February 2014.In a statement, Whittingdale reportedly said he ended his relationship with herafter finding out about her profession.

While it remains to be seen how the news could undermine hisposition, an April 13 report by raised questions regarding claims that mediaorganizations had the story and decided not to publish it because of Whittingdale'sregulation of the press amid the phone-hacking scandal and the Leveson inquiry into press standards.

Shadow Cabinet Minister Chris Bryant, who was Labour's shadowculture secretary until 2015, said the press seemed to have been deliberately holdinga sword of Damocles over Whittingdale, who served as chairman of the Commons culture,media and sport committee before becoming a minister.

Further, Maria Eagle MP, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State forCulture, Media and Sport, also called for an explanation about any undue influenceand urged Whittingdale to recuse himself from press regulation decisions.