Michael Gove 'fortunate' not to go to jail as he admits to drug use 'crime'

Michael Gove has said he was "fortunate" not to go to prison after admitting taking cocaine on "several" occasions.

The environment secretary's admission of drug use during his time as a journalist has rocked his Conservative leadership campaign.

It prompted a rival candidate to take aim at middle-class drug users and the "impact" of their lifestyle and "the number of lives that are destroyed along the way".

The latest developments in the Tory leadership race came as:

On Mr Gove's admission, Mr Javid - who is also standing to succeed Theresa May as prime minister - told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: "Anyone that takes Class A drugs, they need to think about that supply chain that comes from Colombia to, let's say, Chelsea, and the number of lives that are destroyed along the way.

"There are people that, they have organic food, they boast about buying fair trade, they talk about climate change and, at the same time come Friday or Saturday night, they're all doing Class A drugs.

"And they should be thinking about the impact they're having, especially on children, with the rise in county gangs and the horrific abuse I've seen as home secretary of young children that are being trafficked into this trade."

Despite what will be viewed as a thinly-veiled attack on his fellow cabinet minister, Mr Javid said it was not for him to comment on Mr Gove's drug-taking.

Mr Gove has confessed to using cocaine more than 20 years ago at social occasions when he was a "young journalist", but said he does not believe he had a drug habit.

Questioned about his actions, he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "It was a crime, it was a mistake. I deeply regret it."

Mr Gove admitted he was "fortunate" not to go to jail, adding: "I do have a profound sense of regret about it all and I am very, very aware of the damage that drugs do."

He is now facing further questions over whether he declared his drug use on US visa application forms, following claims he could now face a ban on travelling to America.

But the cabinet minister said: "I don't believe that I've ever, on any occasion, failed to tell the truth about this when asked directly."

He added: "I think it is the case that, if I were to be elected prime minister of this country, then of course it would be the case that I would be able to go to the US and I think it's foolish to suggest otherwise."

A spokesman for Mr Gove's campaign said later: "We have taken legal advice from a QC who is satisfied that Michael completed his forms correctly."

:: Listen to the Sophy Ridge on Sunday podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Talking about his younger days to Sophy Ridge, Mr Hunt said: "Every 19-year-old does things that they wouldn't want their mum and dad to find out about."

He added: "I said I drank a cannabis lassi when I was backpacking through India - whether that really counts as doing drugs I don't know.

"Look, I had a fantastic time when I was young, I lived life to the full."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting