Martin Bell may fight Blears

MARTIN Bell, who famously defeated Neil Hamilton in an anti sleaze election battle in 1997, may take on disgraced Communities Secretary Hazel Blears at the General Election.

Graham Dines

MARTIN Bell, who famously defeated Neil Hamilton in an anti sleaze election battle in 1997, may take on disgraced Communities Secretary Hazel Blears at the General Election.

Her Salford seat is a shoo-in for any Labour candidate, but Ms Blears was forced to repay �13,332 when mortgage irregularities were exposed in The Daily telegraph.

Mr Bell - who served one term at MP for Tatton in Cheshire, unsuccessfully contested Brentwood & Ongar in 2001, and stood as a newspaper-backed candidate in the 2004 European Parliament elections for the East of England - would prefer a local candidate to take on Ms Blears.

“I'll be 71 by the time the next election comes round, but I wouldn't rule it out. If nobody does it then it is definitely something I would consider.”

Mr Bell, who was born in Suffolk and who did his national service in the Suffolk Regiment before going on to become one of the most well-known faces on the BBC, was successful in Tatton because the Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates gave him a clear run against Mr Hamilton.