In Brief

Gove admits he was lucky to avoid jail over cocaine use

Tory leadership hopeful's confession prompts other candidates to come clean

Michael Gove says he was “fortunate” to avoid prison after using cocaine several times 20 years ago.

The Tory leadership candidate, who has admitted he took the class A drug while working as a journalist told the BBC: “I was fortunate in that I didn't, but I do think it was a profound mistake.”

While admitting he broke the law by taking the drug, the Environment Secretary denied he had ever had a drug “habit”.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show, he rejected as “foolish” the suggestion that his admission could see him banned from entering the US, even though some UK citizens have been stopped from going to the US after admitting to having taken drugs.

Sky News says the controversy over Gove’s drug admission has “rocked his Conservative leadership campaign”. The Guardian says Gove looked “rattled and uncomfortable under tough lines of questioning” from Marr.

The Mail on Sunday described Gove as a “drug hypocrite,” as it revealed that he hosted a “cocaine-fuelled party” in his London flat a matter of hours after writing an article attacking “middle-class professionals” who took drugs.

Gove’s leadership rival Sajid Javid has twisted the knife saying people who took Class A drugs needed to understand the damage they were doing.

Speaking to Sky News, the Home Secretary said: “It doesn't matter if you are middle class or not - anyone who takes class A drugs, they need to think about that supply chain that comes from Colombia, let's say, to Chelsea and the number of lives that are destroyed along the way.”

Gove’s cocaine admission has led to other Tory leadership hopefuls coming clean about their own use of drugs. 

Andrea Leadsom said she had smoked cannabis at university. “I have never taken cocaine or class A drugs,” she said, adding: “Everyone is entitled to a private life before becoming an MP.”

Dominic Raab admits: “At university, I tried cannabis, not very often as I was into sport.” Esther McVey made a similar disclosure when she told ITV: “I have never taken any class A drugs, but have I tried some pot? Yes I have.”

A source close to Matt Hancock has told the Daily Telegraph he had “tried cannabis a few times as a student but has not taken any illicit drugs since”.

While Rory Stewart Stewart has admitted that he had smoked opium in Afghanistan at a wedding, his rival Sajid Javid said he had never taken “any soft or hard drugs”. Jeremy Hunt says: “I think I had a cannabis lassi when I went backpacking through India”.

Boris Johnson told GQ in 2007 that he had tried cocaine and cannabis at university, but insisted it “achieved no pharmacological, psychotropic or any other effect on me whatsoever”.

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