Liam Fox (pictured) the rightwing contender for the Conservative Party leadership has spoken for the first time about rumours of his gay past.

In an interview for the London Evening Standard he claimed that his impending marriage to Jesme Baird should mean an end to any gossip about his private life. However, he refused to deny that he might have had a gay relationship in the past.

Speaking to the Evening Standard he said, “I think that there are all sorts of smears going around and politicians should stick to issues. If someone accused me of doing something against the law I might feel bound to answer it. Otherwise I would have no comment to make. If you start getting into that, all sorts of areas open up and I think you are entitled to a private life.”

Dr Fox’s comments echo the position taken by the contest’s front-runner, David Cameron who refused to respond to questions relating to drug use in his youth.

Dr Fox slammed the smears as being inaccurate, saying, “I know that some people use smears and I have heard them for years. They’d say, ‘Why are you not married? You must be a playboy or a wild man or gay,’ or whatever. Well, I’m getting married in December and I’m perfectly happy with my private life and it remains my private life. It’s perfectly clear that Jesme and I are very much in love with each other. I’m not going into that smear territory, which people would love to get into instead of having a debate.”

However, at no point during the interview or in subsequent press conferences has Dr Fox denied ever having gay relationships, he has simply stated that there is no need to answer the questions as he and Dr Baird are in “a very happy relationship that we intend to take forward to the rest of our lives. I think that is as important and full a statement as you can make.”

In the past, Dr Fox voted against proposals to allow gay couples to adopt children and against the equalling of the age of consent. He did not vote on the Civil Partnerships Act.

In the 2001 Conservative Leadership contest, former Defence Secretary, Michael Portillo was forced to admit having had a gay relationship in the past and many observers pointed to the admission as being the prime reason for his failure to win the contest.