Michael Portillo has withdrawn a claim that he heard Andrew Mitchell use the word "pleb" in private - claiming he got "carried away".
Last night, the Conservative former Cabinet minister declared: "I have heard him use that word in private conversation - the pleb word, I mean."
But the former politician now says he has no recollection of hearing the word pass the lips of his ex-colleague.
"I seem to have misspoken," he said after his comments were widely reported.
"I had no right to say that."
Asked why he had made the claim, he said: "I think I got carried away in the heat of the moment. I did not mean to say it and I want to withdraw it."