A prominent politician and journalist embroiled in a recent controversy over the death of a British hostage in Iraq has been fired from senior posts in the Conservative Party (search) because of a sex scandal, the party said Saturday.

A spokesman for Conservative leader Michael Howard (search) said Boris Johnson (search) had been sacked as the party's vice chairman and arts spokesman because of articles about his alleged extramarital affair that were due to run in Sunday newspapers.

"In view of the fresh allegations ... Michael Howard has relieved Boris Johnson of his responsibilities as shadow minister for the arts and vice chairman of the Conservative Party," the spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity.

One of Britain's highest-profile Conservative lawmakers, Johnson, 40, appears frequently on television and also edits the weekly Spectator magazine.

Relations between Johnson and Howard were strained last month after The Spectator ran an editorial criticizing the "extreme reaction" of people in Liverpool to the beheading Ken Bigley, a local man kidnapped in Iraq. The article cited the anguish over Bigley as an example of "mawkish sentimentality," and said the people of the famously proud northern English city were "hooked on grief."

Howard ordered Johnson to go to Liverpool and apologize.