Nick Clegg has written a formal letter of apology to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster over claims he was prepared to call the opponents of equal marriage “bigots” in a speech at an LGBT reception.

Speaking exclusively to PinkNews.co.uk, at the event in Carlton Gardens, Westminster, on Tuesday, Mr Clegg insisted that he never intended to use such language as it was “not the kind of word” he would use.

Sources close to Mr Clegg said the “bigot” claim was “a mistake” in an early draft of the speech which should not have been released to the press.

Peter Bone, the anti-equal marriage Conservative MP for Wellingborough in Northamptonshire, called on Mr Clegg to apologise or resign over the row.

According to today’s Daily Mail, in a letter addressed to both of the Anglican and Catholic leaders, Mr Clegg wrote:

“Those extracts were neither written or approved by me. They do not represent my views, which is why they were subsequently withdrawn.

While I am a committed advocate of equal marriage, I would never refer to people who oppose it in this way.

Indeed, I know people myself who do not support equal marriage and, although I disagree with them, clearly I do not think they are bigots.

Nor do I think it is acceptable they, or anyone else, are insulted in this way.

My views on this issue are no secret, but I respect the fact that some people feel differently to me about marriage, often because of their religious beliefs.

I hope this explanation helps clarify what happened yesterday as well as my position, and I hope that the serious error that occurred will not cause lasting offence”.