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Australian MP accused of texting photo of penis to mistress|
An Australian politician accused of sending pictures of his penis to a woman has stepped down as the head of an ethics committee.
Peter Dowling has apologised to his family and described his behaviour as indefensible.
The allegations against the MP, who is a member of Queensland state's ruling conservative Liberal National party, emerged after the Courier-Mail newspaper reported that a woman claiming to be the politician's mistress sent a letter detailing their two-and-a-half-year affair to state parliament speaker Fiona Simpson.
The newspaper said it had seen several explicit text messages between Mr Dowling and the woman.
On Monday Mr Dowling, who has two children with his wife of 27 years, made a statement to the Queensland parliament.
"I owe my family an apology. I am sorry for the pain and embarrassment I caused you," he said. "I am not proud of the events plastered all over the paper. I can't and won't defend any part of it."
Mr Dowling is also accused of taking advantage of parliament business trips to meet the woman. Her name has not been released, and her face has been blacked out in published photos of her and the politician.
He acknowledged he accepted more than 20,000 Australian dollars (£11,600) worth of free flight upgrades.
Mr Dowling said he was stepping down as ethics committee chairman and from the parliamentary crime and misconduct committee until an investigation by the clerk of parliament into his travel is complete.
"In relation to the allegations made to the use of travel allowances, I can assure the house that I have complied fully with all the guidelines and requirements of the parliament," he said.
"However, I do not wish for this issue and for my family to be dragged through the media any longer than necessary. I will answer any questions, front any investigation.
"I don't want pity. I only ask that my family be left alone while this matter is considered by the clerk."
Mr Dowling's actions have invited comparisons with the controversy surrounding New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner.
He is facing demands that he drop out of the race following an admission that he traded sexually graphic messages with women, even after resigning from Congress two years ago for doing the same thing.