Linda Tripp, the former US civil servant whose secretly taped telephone conversations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky that led to then-president Bill Clinton's 1998 impeachment, has died aged 70.

Ms Tripp became forever linked with the sex scandal that nearly brought down Mr Clinton's presidency by way of her whistleblower role in exposing the extramarital affair he had with Ms Lewinsky.

Mr Clinton at first denied the relationship, declaring from the White House: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."

But Ms Tripp's recordings and a dress she urged Ms Lewinsky to save as an "insurance policy" exposed the case further.

In 1988 Mr Clinton ultimately was impeached by the House of Representatives and placed on trial in the Senate for lying and obstruction of justice. He was acquitted.

The affair made Ms Tripp a villain to Democrats and Clinton supporters, but a minor hero to Republicans.

Ms Tripp said in a 1999 interview, on the day of Mr Clinton's acquittal, that she had no regrets despite having received numerous threats.

"The public has no clue... absolutely no idea what Monica endured," she told broadcaster NBC.

"It was worth it to me to do what I considered to be my patriotic duty."

She was later forced from her job, in which she was a political appointee, when Mr Clinton left office in January 2001.

Ms Lewinsky, who made clear at the time that she felt deeply betrayed, tweeted earlier yesterday  about Ms Tripp after news emerged that she was severely ill.

"No matter the past, upon hearing that Linda Tripp is very seriously ill, I hope for her recovery. I can't imagine how difficult this is for her family."

Her death was confirmed to the US media by her family last night who said her illness was unrelated to the coronavirus.