EU Referendum

Queen 'Brexit' story: Grayling rejects Labour's inquiry call

Chris Grayling
Image caption Chris Grayling said no further action was needed

A minister has dismissed calls for a government investigation into whether Justice Secretary Michael Gove was the source of the Sun's story claiming the Queen wants the UK to leave the EU.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson called for a probe and for Mr Gove to "confirm or deny" having been the source.

Commons Leader Chris Grayling said the press watchdog was investigating and no further action was needed.

Mr Gove has said he does not know "how the Sun got all its information".

The Sun says it is standing by its front page from last week, which was headlined "Queen backs Brexit".

It referred to an exchange between the monarch and former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, in 2011, which it called a "bust-up" and said left no doubt about the Queen's "passionate feelings over Europe".

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Media captionGove: "I don't know how The Sun got all of its information"

Buckingham Palace has complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation about the report, insisting the Queen is "politically neutral".

Asking an urgent question in the Commons on Monday, Mr Watson said ministers who met the Queen as members of the Privy Council swore an oath not to reveal what was said at their meetings.

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Any member of the Privy Council who turned out to have been the source of the story "should be removed from office if he won't honourably resign himself", he said.

Mr Watson said the three other ministers at the meeting where the exchange was said to have taken place had denied being the source, adding that Mr Gove's response had been "hardly categoric".

On Saturday, Mr Gove told reporters: "I don't know how the Sun got all its information and I don't think it's really worth my adding anything to what's already been said."

A source close to him later told the BBC: "Michael did not brief this story."

Image caption Labour's Tom Watson called for an investigation into the source of the story

Before Mr Watson asked his urgent question in the Commons, Speaker John Bercow reminded MPs they were not able to discuss the Queen's views.

Mr Grayling, who like Mr Gove wants to quit the EU, is also Privy Council lord president.

Responding to Mr Watson, he said there was no need for further action as the press watchdog was already investigating and the story had been denied by Mr Clegg, Mr Grayling's predecessor as Privy Council lord president.

Mr Clegg has said he could not remember any such incident and called the story "nonsense".

"You can't be found guilty of an offence when an offence has not taken place," Mr Grayling said.

He also answered "yes" when asked whether Mr Gove was supported by the prime minister and cabinet.

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