Australian MP in sexting scandal

Peter Dowling has stepped down Credit: Peter Dowling website

An Australian politician accused of sending explicit pictures of himself to a woman has stepped down as the head of an ethics committee. Peter Dowling is a member of Queensland state's ruling conservative Liberal National Party and gave up the post after the allegations came to light in The Courier-Mail newspaper.

Mr Dowling has apologised for his actions, telling parliament, "I owe my family an apology. I am sorry for the pain and embarrassment I caused you."

He added: "I am not proud of the events plastered all over the paper. I can't and won't defend any part of it. I owe my staff an apology for the calls and emails they will no doubt be fielding. I owe my colleagues, my fellow members, an apology for any embarrassment or any poor reflection on the party."

According to his website, Mr Dowling has two children with his wife of 27 years.

Mr Dowling is also accused of taking advantage of parliament business trips to meet the woman.

He acknowledged accepting more than 20,000 Australian dollars ($17,800) worth of free flight upgrades but denies breaching any disclosure rules. Queensland's parliament exempts travel upgrades from its rules that politicians declare all gifts worth more than AU$500.

The controversy surrounding Mr Dowling follows a similar scandal around New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. He admitted [trading sexually graphic messages with women even after resigning from Congress two years ago for doing the same thing.