Immigration Minister Shane Gibson resigned Sunday night in a flap over his relationship with Anna Nicole Smith, apologizing to the Bahamian people for any embarrassment he may have caused the country.
Photos recently appeared in a Bahamas newspaper showing Gibson in bed and embracing the former Playboy Playmate, who died on Feb. 8 in Hollywood, Florida. They were fully clothed, but the pictures stoked a controversy because Gibson had fast-tracked Smith's application for permanent residency on the island chain.
"I want to apologize to all persons who may in any way have been offended by anything that I have said, done, or perceived to have said or done," Gibson said on state TV, declared he was resigning.
"To the extent that my beloved country has in any way suffered ... I want to apologize to the Bahamian people as a whole," he added.
However, Gibson denied any wrongdoing and said he did not have a sexual relationship with Smith.
Smith based her residency application upon her claimed ownership of a waterfront mansion in the Bahamas, but the property's ownership is disputed.
Prime Minister Perry Christie said he accepted Gibbon's resignation.
"However sad Shane's decision to resign may be, I also believe, as does he, that it is the correct course of action for him to take in all of the circumstances," Christie said on TV.
Gibson stated emphatically during a special broadcast on the national television station that although he was stepping down, he was not admitting to any accusations against him, calling them "vicious and wicked lies."
"I unconditionally deny that I ever abused my ministerial office by granting Anna Nicole Smith any permit of which she was undeserving or for which she was not qualified under the laws of the Bahamas," he said.
The Tribune of Nassau on Feb. 12 published two photographs on its front page showing Smith and Gibson embracing on a bed decorated with pink flowers and a white ribbon. The newspaper said the photos were taken in Smith's bedroom and that it obtained them from an unidentified source.
G. Ben Thompson, a South Carolina developer who once dated Smith, has said he did not give Smith the Bahamas house as a gift as her lawyers have asserted. Thompson is attempting to reclaim the US$900,000 (EUR 686,030) waterfront mansion.
Howard K. Stern, Smith's companion, has been living in the house with Smith's daughter, Dannielynn, who was born in September in a Bahamas hospital.
Days after the baby was born, Smith's 20-year-old son Daniel Smith died under mysterious circumstances in a Bahamas hospital room while visiting his mother. A coroner hired by Smith's family said Daniel died from a lethal combination of drugs, including methadone. An inquest into his death is scheduled to begin here on March 27.
Several men claim to have fathered the baby girl, who could potentially inherit a multimillion-dollar fortune. Since the death in 1995 of her 90-year-old husband, Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, Smith had been waging a court battle over his estate, the AP reports.
A birth certificate lists Stern as the girl's father. But Smith's former boyfriend Larry Birkhead has gone to court in Florida in pursuit of DNA testing to prove he is the father. And Prince Frederic von Anhalt, the husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, has said he had a decade-long affair with Smith and will file his own paternity challenge.