A Conservative shadow minister has appealed for privacy after it was reported that he has left his wife for a man.

Tory Environment spokesman Greg Barker, has split from his wife of 14 years Celeste, after having a year long gay affair, according to reports.

The MP for Bexhill and Battle, a close ally of Tory leader David Cameron, has since confirmed that he has separated from Celeste but says the rest is a private matter, a statement backed by his party.

A source told the Daily Mail: “The affair has been going on a long time but Celeste has only just recently found out about it.

“She is absolutely devastated. It came completely out of the blue. Nobody had any idea that Greg was gay. She has dedicated herself entirely to supporting his career for years.”

The couple have two sons and one daughter aged 11, seven and six.

Mr Barker has a relatively poor voting record on gay rights, he opposed a gay adoption bill in 2002, and has previously backed keeping Section 28 before it was repealed.

He did however vote for civil partnerships.