Culture Secretary Derek Beagle last night issued a humiliating denial following accusations he had been sniffing toilet paper.
Beagle, 59, and until recently considered a safe pair of hands was forced into the denial following months of whispering in Whitehall's corridors.
A source close to the minister raged: "The very idea is preposterous. Stealing toilet paper, yes. After all that is what it is there for. But to sniff it? It smacks of a dirty tricks campaign and it stinks."
Meanwhile in a carefully worded statement, the minister said: "I can categorically deny the sniffing of lavatory tissue and certainly shan't be resigning. Indeed, anyone who has seen me walk will know that I simply never go near the stuff."
Prime Minister Gordon Brown added: "Derek has my full confidence. Toilet paper has no place in a British Government."