Chris Huhne has admitted his rouge tweet where he accidentally wrote that he did not want his "fingerprints" on a story was related to an attempt to brief against his cabinet colleague Theresa May.
The energy secretary told BBC 1's The Politics Show he had talked to the Guardian about a story they wrote comparing the home secretary's speech to one by UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
May has been the subject of counter-briefing by her cabinet colleagues over an aside in her speech to the Conservative party conference about a Bolivian immigrant whose deportion was halted because he had a pet cat.
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke called the remarks laughable and "child-like".
Huhne admitted he talking to the Guardian about a speech made by Farage where he used the same language, telling an audience in Huhne's Eastleigh constituency about an incident where the human rights act prevented a deportation because "I really am not making this up – he had a pet cat".
The story alleged:
The home secretary Theresa May's claim that a Bolivian student was saved from deportation by the existence of a pet cat appears to have been lifted almost word for word from the leader of the UK Independence party.
Speaking today, Huhne said he had now apologised to the home secretary.
“I arrived in my constituency on Friday morning and we had the Easterly News website where I check what is going on. On the site is a recording of Theresa May talking to a local radio station about the Human Rights Act, and one from a few months previously of the UKIP leader Nigel Farage and it is exactly the same. I frankly thought it was so funny. Then a journalist friend wrote the story and rang me about it and asked me if I wanted to comment on it. I said no, I didn't.
“I have apologised to the Home Secretary. It was a public matter and was already on the news website…..I completely confess, I own up and I have apologised to Theresa May about drawing attention to this public matter that was on a local website.
“I have left a message on her voicemail but I haven’t managed to speak her. I don’t think it is a question of personal loyalties but we have to get used to the fact that we have different views.”
He also revealed that cabinet colleague and transport secretary Philip Hammond had recently received points for speeding, saying: "Actually, apparently Philip has recently broken the speed limit and got some points so I mean I put my hands up, I lost my licence from speeding so I was in a very good position to say that I should assure that obviously we shouldn't do that and we need to maintain the law."
However a source close to Hammond told the Press Association the allegations were incorrect: "Chris Huhne should check his facts. Philip has always been open that he has had points in the past but they have now expired.
"To say he has been caught speeding recently is incorrect."