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Jun 19, 2007 at 10:11pm IST

Minister resigns over Anna Nicole

Nassau: Bahamas Immigration Minister Shane Gibson has resigned amid fallout over his involvement with Anna Nicole Smith, the former Playboy Playmate and billionaire's widow who died earlier this month.

Gibson announced his resignation late on Sunday on state television and radio but denied any wrongdoing or romantic link to Smith, saying he had made the decision for the well being of his family.

"My entire family has suffered enough. For far too long they have had to listen to one lie after another. It can only get worse," he said.

WRONG LINK: Gibson announced his resignation but denied any wrongdoing or romantic link to Smith.

Gibson came under pressure to step down after the publication last week of photographs of him and Smith embracing on a bed and reports that he had fast-tracked her application for residency in the Caribbean nation.

Critics said he granted her residency status on the basis of their close friendship when, in fact, she met none of the criteria for such a permit.

According to local media reports, Gibson's mother was looking after Smith's five-month-old daughter, Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern, when Smith died on February 8, aged 39, after collapsing in a Florida hotel.

The cause of death has yet to be determined and her body is the subject of a custody fight between her lawyer and companion, Howard K Stern, and her mother, Virgie Arthur.

The pictures of Gibson and Smith caused such a furor that Gibson's own Progressive Liberal Party colleagues feared the fallout would affect their chances in the upcoming general election.

Gibson, a former trade-union official, said his continued presence on the front line of politics would make it more difficult for the government to deliver its message.

He for anything he had "said, done or was perceived to have said or done" that may have caused offense.

Prime Minister Perry Christie said he accepted the resignation "with profound sadness and deepest regret" and added that he had lost one of his ablest ministers.