LONDON - A British minister announced his unexpected resignation as a Sunday newspaper reported he had sent an explicit photo of himself online, in the latest setback to David Cameron's Conservative-led government.
"I have decided to resign as minister for civil society having been notified of a story to be published in a Sunday newspaper," said Brooks Newmark, a Conservative member of parliament since 2005.
"I would like to appeal for the privacy of my family to be respected at this time. I remain a loyal supporter of this government as its long-term economic plan continues to deliver for the British people," Newmark said.
The Sunday Mirror reported the 56-year-old married father of five exchanged a series of sexually explicit photos online with a freelance male reporter who was posing as a young female activist.
In a private conversation on a social networking site, Newmark "sent a graphic picture exposing himself while wearing a pair of paisley pyjamas," the tabloid newspaper reported.
The then-minister also invited the reporter to meet with him during the Conservative party conference, which begins on Sunday, when the party will set out its case for re-election in May 2015.
The resignation was the second blow to the prime minister ahead of the start of the conference, following the defection of a Conservative lawmaker to eurosceptic party UKIP on Saturday.
The events overshadowed policy announcements to cap welfare and cut benefits for 18-21 year olds to fund apprenticeships, aimed to convince voters with a platform of budget discipline.
The prime minister's office said in a statement that the prime minister had accepted Newmark's resignation, and that Conservative lawmaker Rob Wilson would take over as minister for civil society.
With a background in finance, Newmark made headlines earlier this month when he said charities should stay out of politics and "stick to their knitting".
He is the co-founder of Women2Win, which campaigns for the election of more Conservative women to parliament.