Australian politician quits over lewd texts

SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian politician was forced to quit a parliamentary ethics committee on Tuesday after his ex-mistress revealed lewd texts he sent her, including one reportedly of his penis in a glass of red wine.

Queensland state government MP Peter Dowling, who has been married for more than 25 years, apologised to his family for the pain and embarrassment of the scandal which was sensationally published in the Courier-Mail newspaper.

"I am not proud of the events plastered all over the paper," Mr Dowling, a Liberal National Party politician, told parliament in reference to reports he had sent the woman several explicit text messages, including one which involved full-frontal nudity.

"I can't and won't defend any part of it."

The MP, who was also accused of taking advantage of parliamentary trips to rendezvous with his mistress, said he would stand aside as chair of the ethics committee to allow an investigation into his travel to take place.

Mr Dowling, who is also a member of the parliamentary crime and misconduct committee, said he had complied fully with all parliamentary rules for disclosure of travel.

"I am today voluntarily stepping aside from both committee roles so that this matter can be fully investigated and considered by the Clerk of Parliament," he said.

"I don't want pity, I only ask that my family be left alone while this matter is considered by the Clerk."

The revelations have emerged as another "sexting" scandal swirls around New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, who is under pressure to abandon his campaign over new online escapades a year after he was forced to quit Congress for similar conduct.

Mr Dowling's story emerged after his ex-mistress, who has not been named, wrote to the parliamentary speaker about their affair and revealed that they had sex in the politician's parliamentary annex bedsit and electorate office.

The Courier Mail said it had seen several of the texts, including one of a man's underwear-clad crotch, another of genitals and one in which a penis was in a glass of red wine headed "He wanted a Red Wine..."

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