Cyber-sex scandal MP Brooks Newmark to quit British parliament

LONDON (AFP) - A British lawmaker who quit Prime Minister David Cameron's government over an Internet sex scandal said on Saturday he will stand down from parliament at the May general election.

Brooks Newmark quit his post as minister for civil society on Sept 28, having sent an explicit photo of himself online to a male freelance reporter posing as a young female party activist.

The 56-year-old, married father-of-five stepped down from the government shortly before the story appeared in the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

US-born Newmark, who has been the Conservative member of parliament for Braintree, east of London, since 2005, wrote to party leader Cameron to say he will not defend his seat at the 2015 election.

"The continued media intrusion into past episodes in my personal life is placing an intolerable burden on my family. I have therefore decided to stand down at the general election," he wrote.

"I have no one to blame but myself and take full responsibility for my own actions.

"I will remain a loyal supporter of the government."

In a private conversation on a social networking site, Newmark "sent a graphic picture exposing himself while wearing a pair of paisley pyjamas," the Sunday Mirror reported.

Other targeted Conservative MPs did not fall for the honeytrap sting.

The methods used in the investigation have since been criticised and former judge Alan Moses, who chairs the new Independent Press Standards Organisation, has said the matter is of "urgent public concern".

Examining the methodology behind the sting will be the first test of the press' new self-regulation body established in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

The Sunday Mirror has insisted the story was in the public interest; however, it has apologised to a Swedish model whose photo was used as part of the operation without her knowledge.

With a background in finance, Newmark is the co-founder of Women2Win, which campaigns for the election of more Conservative women to parliament.