Waite will not be election candidate

Terry Waite rules himself out of Bury St Edmunds contest

FORMER Beirut hostage Terry Waite has decided against standing for Parliament in a Suffolk constituency at the coming general election.

At the height of the MPs’ expenses row last year, Mr Waite teamed up with Suffolk-born broadcaster Martin Bell, who won the Tatton constituency in 1997 against Neil Hamilton, in encouraging independent candidates to stand.

Mr Waite, who lives in the west Suffolk village of Hartest, was expected to contest the Bury St Edmunds constituency, whose Tory MP David Ruffley had tried to claim a �2,000 television set bought from Harrods on his expenses. But along with Mr Bell, Mr Waite has decided not to stand in the election.

He said: “I am not doing this for any personal ambition and in some ways it is a burden.”

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Adding that he was concerned that the media spotlight would fall on his family if he did become a candidate, he said: “It is something I would do if I thought it was in the best welfare of the country.”

Mr Waite was also angered at the impact government policies were having on rural areas and said that living in the countryside had made him well aware of problems facing rural Britain.

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However, with his 71st birthday approaching in a few weeks’ time, Mr Waite has decided against standing.

His spokesman said: “Terry will campaign in the election for candidates who are independent of party politics.”

When he announced that he could be a candidate, supporters immediately started a page on the social networking site Facebook, calling for him to be made Minister of Pensions if he was elected.

Mr Waite was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Assistant for Anglican Communion Affairs and travelled to the Lebanon to secure the release of four hostages including journalist John McCarthy. However, he was kidnapped himself and spent four years as a hostage between 1987 and 1991.

Mr Bell, who at one time had considered standing against Tory frontbencher Alan Duncan in Melton & Rutland, said: “I am very unlikely to stand this time, mainly on account of anno domini, but I am doing what I can to help electable Independents.”

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