Michael Gove and his wife, Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine, were said to have left their 11-year-old son at a B&B while they attended a party to mark the close of Cheltenham Literary festival earlier this month. This was despite the couple allegedly telling staff at the B&B that they expected to be back by 9.30pm.

Gove and his wife did not return until 1.30am, having apparently ignored several calls from the B&B. They were contacted by the night porter after he found their son, William, wandering the hallways of the exclusive establishment, No.38 The Park in Cheltenham, on the evening of October 15, asking for his parents.

A source quoted by the Mirror.co.uk said: "At between 6pm and 7pm on the night they went out, Mr Gove approached a worker at the hotel and asked him if they provided evening meals as his son was staying in their room. He was told it did not. It only provides a breakfast service, but that he could order a takeaway for him and the hotel operates an honesty bar so his son could get himself drinks.

"Mr Gove and his wife left the hotel shortly afterwards and told the worker they were going out for a short time. When pressed they said they would be back at around 9pm or 9.30pm.

"Later in the evening, the night porter saw their son wandering around the hotel. When he spoke to him, the boy was asking where his parents were and when they would be back.

"After around an hour, Mr Gove and his wife had still not returned and the night porter became concerned, so he began phoning them. But the calls were either not answered or clicked off. They eventually arrived back at the hotel at 1.30am – six hours after going out to their party."

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday, journalist Rachel Johnson – the sister of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - confirmed that she had been with the Goves "until about 1.30 that morning" but defended the couple. She added that their son had been babysitting the family's two dogs, and so had not been left completely on his own.

She added: "He [Gove] was on the dancefloor so I decided to ask the DJ to put on Blurred Lines - so there were some blurred lines when it comes to the Johnson/Gove rapprochement. I honestly think Gove is a shoo-in for Strictly next year."

Though British law does not state an age at which children may be left on their own, it is an offence to leave a child unsupervised if it puts them at risk. The Government's official website refers to guidance issued by The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) which advises children under twelve should not be left without adult supervision.

A spokesman for the family told the Mirror: "Michael and Sarah's son is a mature and confident secondary school pupil. He preferred to watch TV rather than go out to dinner. He was perfectly fine and staff at the 13-room hotel were happy to supervise."

Though he said the couple had no mobile reception at the event, he said staff at the B&B would have been able to contact them if anything "distressing" had occurred. The event on October 15 was held at the B&B's sister hotel, No.131 The Promenade – approximately a mile-and-a-half away.

One-time secretary of state for education, which is responsible for policy on children's services, Gove was ousted from Government by incoming Prime Minister Theresa May, earlier this year. The move followed his humiliating defeat in the post-referendum Conservative party leadership contest.

Michael Gove Sarah Vine
Michael Gove and his wife Sarah Vine pictured after voting in the European Union referendum which saw Gove ousted from the Government's front bench. Jack Taylor/Getty Images