Intellect not lust made me fall for a Cheeky Girl, says Opik

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The Independent Online

The Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik says he fell for "Cheeky Girl" Gabriela Irimia because of her brains rather than her looks.

Mr Opik, 41, who is 17 years older than Ms Irimia, describes their relationship as a "meeting of minds" in an interview for Hello! accompanied by photo-graphs of the couple at a hotel near the MP's Montgomeryshire constituency.

The magazine is in effect special issue on the once private life of the Liberal Democrats' Northern Ireland and Wales spokesman. He shares the cover with his former partner, the TV weather presenter Sian Lloyd. Mr Opik says: "She [Gabi] challenges me intellectually... Our relationship is not based on lust; it's primarily a relationship of intellect, a meeting of minds, and that I find really interesting and attractive."

He is pictured with Ms Irimia, 24, across eight pages of this week's issue of the magazine in a variety of poses and outfits at the hotel. The magazine describes how they "snuggled up together, held hands and stole kisses" during the interview.

Mr Opik denied having dumped Ms Lloyd, 48, to date the Romanian-born pop star. He insists it was Ms Lloyd who ended their relationship on 23 October and that his friendship with Ms Irimia, who with her twin Monica rose to prominence with the hit single "The Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)", had been platonic until last month.

He described colleagues and friends as "very supportive" before admitting they still sing "The Cheeky Song" whenever they see him in Westminster.

Ms Lloyd tells Hello! that the MP was a heavy drinker and that his habit led to them splitting up.

She says: "If you've been to Parliament, you'll know the drinking is totally hardcore. It's like no other drinking I've ever seen - Lembit would drink from before noon through to midnight and beyond."