Theresa May’s political secretary has been accused of publicly disclosing the sexuality of a former partner who turned whistleblower to accuse Vote Leave of breaking electoral law.
Lawyers for Shahmir Sanni say a communique on behalf of Stephen Parkinson is the “first time a Downing Street official statement has been used to out someone”.
In a statement, his lawyer said: “My client is now having to come out to his mother and family tonight, and members of his family in Pakistan are being forced to take urgent protective measures to ensure their safety.”
Both men were activists for pro-Brexit groups during the run up to the EU referendum.
It is believed Sanni will suggest Vote Leave illegally co-ordinated with another group, BeLeave, to evade spending caps.
Sanni said in a statement: “It’s sad that Stephen feels he can’t tell the truth about cheating in the Referendum. I think he understands why I had to do the right thing and let people know what really happened. But I never imagined that he, with the help of Number 10, would choose to tell the world I am gay, in a last desperate attempt to scare me.
“This is something I’ve never told most of my friends or family, here or in Pakistan, some of whom are having to take measures to ensure their safety. He knew the danger it would cause, and that’s why he did it.
“My coming out should have happened at a moment of my choosing – not his or the Government’s. Some things are more important than politics and I hope that one day he agrees.”
Sunni’s whistleblower claims were first alluded to in a lengthy blog by Dominic Cummings, the former campaign director of Vote Leave, in which he spoke at length about accusations of links between Cambridge Analytica and the Brexit campaign.
In it, Parkinson said via the Downing Street statement: “Shahmir became an occasional volunteer for Vote Leave and other Leave campaigns, and we began a personal relationship.
“We subsequently dated for 18 months, splitting up — I thought amicably — in September 2017. That is the capacity in which I gave Shahmir advice and encouragement, and I can understand if the lines became blurred for him, but I am clear that I did not direct the activities of any separate campaign groups.
“I had no responsibility for digital campaigning or donations during the referendum, and am confident that Vote Leave acted entirely within the law and strict spending rules at all times.”
Downing Street has been contacted for comment.