Mo Mowlam's widower has confirmed that he had begun a relationship with her former Cabinet colleague Clare Short.

But Jon Norton insisted that their relationship was not a public matter and said he felt recent press reports had been intrusive.

A photograph of Mr Norton and Birmingham Ladywood MP Ms Short was featured in Saturday's Daily Mail, which said that he had been "comforted" by the former International Development Secretary following his wife's death last year.

Writing in the New Statesman today, Mr Norton said: "The article was essentially true, in that Clare and I are seeing each other and have made no secret of it."

But he added: "All I am is an ex-banker who was made redundant in his 40s and took up painting pictures, not a person who has sought public attention or deserves it. Yet my shopping habits and what time I get up in the morning are of interest to the tabloids.

"I can see that if you use the media to advance your career, you should run the risk of press intrusion into your private life. But if you are just a normal person trying to live a normal life after coming through a rather testing period I'm not sure they have the right to investigate your shopping habits." ..SUPL: