David Cameron has rejected calls for an official investigation into the leak of reported comments made by the Queen on the European Union.
The Prime Minister said the matter was being dealt with by the press watchdog and there was no need for a further inquiry.
Buckingham Palace has lodged a formal complaint with the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) about the report in a tabloid newspaper which appeared under the headline “Queen Backs Brexit”, the term for a vote to come out of the EU.
The story was based in part on comments the Queen was alleged to have made to former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg when he was deputy prime minister.
Mr Cameron said: “The Palace has made a very clear statement, the former deputy prime minister has made a very clear statement saying that this didn’t happen and I think we should leave it at that.
“There is obviously a proper investigation now being held by the press complaints commission and I think we should let them do their work.”
His comments came as Michael Gove – a Leave campaigner – emerged as the prime suspect as the source of the leak. The Justice Secretary was one of just four ministers, including Mr Clegg, present at a meeting of the Privy Council at Windsor Castle in April 2011 when it is thought the conversation with the Queen took place.
A spokeswoman for Mr Gove has refused to comment on the claims, however Mr Cameron appeared to accept he was not involved.
“These are very serious matters but as far as I can see Michael Gove has made clear that he has no idea where this story came from either,” he said.
The editor of The Sun newspaper, Tony Gallagher, has strongly defended its reporting and the “Queen Backs Brexit” headline – even though she did not explicitly advocate leaving the EU in either of the reported conversations referred to in the story.
“Multiple sources – two sources to be precise – came to us with information about the Queen and her views on the EU and we would have been derelict in our duty if we didn’t put them in the paper. It’s as simple as that,” he told the BBC. “You are going to have to take my word for it that we are completely confident that the Queen’s views were expressed exactly as we have outlined them both in the headline and the story.
“It is also the case that we knew much more than we published and that remains the case.
“We are in no doubt that the story is accurate.”
Labour MP Wes Streeting has written to the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood urging him to investigate the leak, saying it would be an “extremely serious breach” of Privy Council rules if it came from one of its meetings.
“Whoever has sought to drag the monarch into the referendum debate for their own ends ought to be dragged into public to explain why they behaved in such an inappropriate way, and to apologise,” he said.
The front-page headline read: “Queen backs Brexit” and the paper quoted a ‘’senior source’’ as saying that people who heard their conversation ‘’were left in no doubt at all about the Queen’s views on European integration’’.
Mr Clegg dismissed the report as “nonsense”.