Maria Miller last night admitted she “let people down” as she struggled to cling on to her Cabinet job amid a growing Tory backlash.
The Culture Secretary broke her silence after nearly a week of dire headlines to insist she is “devastated” about the criticism she received from the Standards Committee.
In an article for local paper the Basingstoke Gazette, Mrs Miller said the last 16 months had been “difficult”.
“I have unreservedly apologised for the way I handled and approached the inquiry,” the MP wrote.
“I am devastated that this has happened, and that I have let you down.”
With more Conservatives breaking ranks to express concern about David Cameron’s determination to cling on to his minister, and the Prime Minister likely to face further questions in Parliament today, allies launched a furious counter-attack accusing the press of a “witch-hunt” because of her role in shaping a new regulatory system.
Mrs Miller’s parliamentary aide Mary MacLeod texted colleagues asking them to speak up in her boss’s favour.
“In some of the newspapers it has been like a witch hunt where they don’t like the work that Maria has done on Leveson and gay marriage,” she said.
“Therefore what they are trying to do is to find a way to get her out of the job.”
In her article, Mrs Miller again insisted that the committee had dismissed “all allegations against me”.