MP’s lover tells how his affair began
WITH impeccably bad timing, Tory MP Greg Barker’s former lover has spoken in some detail about the gay affair which cost Barker his seat in the Shadow Cabinet.
Interior designer William Banks-Blaney, 36, has picked the most sensitive moment in the political calendar — Gordon Brown’s imminent election announcement — to talk openly about his four-year relationship with the former shadow energy secretary.
Blaney, now engaged to his future ‘husband’, a lawyer, discloses how he met the MP for Bexhill and Battle in a Chelsea gym in June 2004. ‘We started dating and, about a week into it, he told me that he wasn’t single, he was married, that he wasn’t a property developer, he was a politician and that he had three children.
‘I ended it immediately and two days later he arrived at my front door with flowers. The following week, a CD was sent to my office. I was very hotly pursued and I was very much the one who kept saying: “Please try and work on your marriage, please seek help.” ’
Despite this, the affair continued for four years, the first two in secret. After Barker confessed to his wife, Celeste, in August 2006, Blaney was advised to go abroad, first to Turkey then to New York and Africa. And in what will be an embarrassment to David Cameron, he says: ‘I was told to stay away, stay hidden, stay low.’
On his return, he met Mrs Barker and the pair became friends. But by early 2007 the gay romance had lost its lustre. Explains Blaney, who has revealed all to next month’s Tatler magazine: ‘If you are with someone who tells you weekly, if not daily, that you are ageing badly, that you have saggy eyes, that you’re wide-hipped, that you’re no spring chicken, that you need to hone your skills at the dinner table, that you could do with losing a stone, that there’s basically something wrong with every aspect of you, you start to believe it, which makes you much more ill-equipped to leave.’
Blaney confronted Barker, 44, at the House of Commons.
‘I told him what I thought and he seemed to think that now he was “out” and he’d kept his position, he was a huge catch and that millions of men would give their right arm to be with him.
‘I told him I thought he’d turned into a bit of a b*****d and he took it as a compliment.’
Afterwards, Barker, now shadow minister for the environment, found love with a new partner — twenty-something polo player George Prassas. The Barkers divorced in 2008.
PS WITH all the train delays and line closures on the London Underground, surely hard-pressed travellers should be warned of another hazard — the unheralded appearance of a flustered-looking John Prescott. The former Labour Deputy Prime Minister surprised the proletariat when he was spotted running down an escalator at Green Park station last week. ‘He was hurrying and all his chins were wobbling,’ says a fellow passenger. A woman on the escalator going up in the opposite direction saw him and shouted: ‘Are you John Prescott?’ The former deputy prime minister sureally shouted back ‘Yes I am!’ before disappearing down to the Tube platform. Maybe he had given up his two Jags for Lent . . .
WITH Prince Charles showing hardly any real interest in the sport of kings — he goes to Royal Ascot on sufferance but usually shoots off in his Aston Martin after the Royal procession — who is going to take on the Queen’s large racing operation in years to come?
Step foward Prince Harry. Having hitherto shown little of his grandmother’s passion for rac- ing, Harry paid a surprise visit to Newmarket over Easter to meet two of HM’s racing trainers and watch several of her horses in action.
Usually, the Queen visits Suffolk at this time of year, but instead Harry, accompanied by two bodyguards and the monarch’s racing manager J ohn Warren, arrived at 6.30am on Saturday to watch Kingdom of Fife, one of eight horses the Queen has with Sir Michael Stoute, work out for a mile on Newmarket’s Race - course Side training ground.
Later, he crossed town to watch the Queen’s so f ar unraced 100,000 guinea purchase, Starshine and met Michael Bell, whose has another eight of the Queen’s horses in training.