The British minister of culture said on Tuesday that he previously dated a woman who was working in the sex industry and that tabloid newspapers had known her true occupation before he did — raising questions about whether his role as a government minister with oversight of the nation’s news media had been compromised.
In a statement issued to the BBC program “Newsnight,” the minister, John Whittingdale, who is a Conservative member of Parliament, called his former relationship “an old story which was a bit embarrassing at the time” and denied that it had affected his role as a government official.
“The events occurred long before I took up my present position and it has never had any influence on the decisions I have made as culture secretary,” he said.
Before he became a member of the cabinet, Mr. Whittingdale served as the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in the House of Commons for 10 years. He was appointed minister of culture in 2015.
Mr. Whittingdale said he had met the woman on Match.com and dated her from August 2013 to February 2014. He said the tabloids knew her real occupation.
“I only discovered this when I was made aware that someone was trying to sell a story about me to tabloid newspapers,” he told the program, adding, “As soon as I discovered, I ended the relationship.”
The admissions raised questions about whether Mr. Whittingdale was able to perform the role of culture minister, who oversees regulation of the news media, and drew criticism from the opposition.
“It seems the press were quite deliberately holding a sword of Damocles over John Whittingdale,” Chris Bryant, a member of Parliament and the Labour Party who served as shadow culture secretary until September, said in an interview with the BBC.
“He has a perfect right to a private life, but as soon as he knew this, he should have withdrawn from all regulation of the press,” Mr. Bryant added.
Mr. Whittingdale’s relationship with the woman, whom he did not name on Tuesday, was reported in a series of articles published this month by Byline Media, a crowd-funded news and opinion website. The site published pictures it said showed the minister and the woman on the London subway, and called the relationship “an open secret” in political and media circles in the British capital.
The revelations added to the political woes of Prime Minister David Cameron, who has faced stiff criticism in Parliament and the British media after he and his father were named in the leak of documents called the Panama Papers. The documents revealed how figures across the globe used a Panamanian law firm to set up shell companies to hide vast wealth or avoid taxes.
More than half of the 214,000 offshore companies incorporated by the law firm, Mossack Fonseca, were based in the British Virgin Islands.