By Philip Whiteside
THE country's highest-ranking lawyer, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, has sensationally confessed to the News of the World that he cheated on wife Joy with a top barrister.
Lord Peter Goldsmith, a close friend and long-time ally of Tony Blair, admitted having an affair with Kim Hollis — the first Asian woman to reach the rank of Queen's Counsel.
He made his shock confession to us in the week it was revealed Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald had cheated on HIS wife Linda with blonde barrister Kirsty Brimelow.
When we asked him about mum-of-two Mrs Hollis the Attorney General, who is the DPP's boss, released a statement saying: "My wife knows all about this and has done for some time. It is all in the past.
"We are both very happy. This is a private matter and my wife and I have no further comment."
MPs last week demanded to know whether the DPP was guilty of a conflict of interest as a result of the affair with high-flier Kirsty.
Their concerns may now extend to whether the Attorney General could also have been compromised by having a close relationship with a senior QC.
One source said: "You have to question whether they've had their minds fully on the job of looking after the legal needs of the government and country."
As Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, 57, is the government's legal adviser.
He was appointed to the £106,358-a-year post in 2001 and his most famous act was telling the Cabinet he believed the invasion of Iraq was justified under international law.
Having previously questioned its legality, he was accused of caving in under pressure. Since then he has been mired in controversy over his decision to abandon a prosecution over the export of arms to Saudi Arabia.
The Prime Minister was understood to have been keen to appoint Lord Goldsmith to the post of Lord Chief Justice when Lord Woolf stood down, but the plan was abandoned in the face of massive opposition.
There have recently been growing calls for his position to be scrapped with confidence in his role as an independent legal adviser to the government at an all-time low.
Before joining the Government, Lord Goldsmith was one of the founders of the Bar Council's Pro Bono Unit which offers free legal work for people in need.
He was chairman of the unit from 1996 until he took on the role of Attorney General.
Lord Goldsmith, who went to the same Quarry Bank School in Liverpool as John Lennon, once said if he had not become a lawyer he wanted to be the "Fifth Beatle."
He and Joy, left, have three sons and a daughter in their teens and early 20s and live in London's Westminster.
Mrs Hollis, 49, the grand-daughter of an Indian freedom fighter who battled alongside Mahatma Gandhi, split from her husband Andrew three years ago.
It is unclear if her affair was the cause of the break-up. But it is believed she and Lord Goldsmith met regularly in secret over several months behind the backs of both spouses.
The attractive QC was called to the Bar in 1979 and soon after began to specialise in defending those accused of sex crimes and so-called honour killings.
But perhaps her most famous case was prosecuting the man who handled thousands of pounds worth of Victoria Beckham's designer underwear after it was stolen at an airport.
She grilled binman Mark Oliver in the case at Isleworth Crown Court and spoke with Posh when she took the stand to give evidence in 2001.
Mrs Hollis helped secure the conviction against Oliver, who got 15 months in jail for handling the clothes.
She became a QC, the legal profession's most prestigious inner circle, the following year.
Mrs Hollis, born in the Forest of Dean to an Indian father and British mother, has two children by Andrew, one at university and the other taking GCSEs.
There was no reply at Mrs Hollis' home in Fulham, west London, on Saturday.
Lord Goldsmith was on an official trip to the US with his wife.