Merchant resigns from Parliament

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Piers Merchant, the Tory MP for Beckenham, who has been the subject of two investigations by tabloid newspapers into his relationship with an18-year-old woman, variously described as his researcher and bar hostess, announced he was going to resign from Parliament.

After the woman, Anna Cox, came out of Mr Merchant's home to confront photographers, she became distressed and was taken to a local hospital. Speculation has started over whether the relatively safe Tory seat will go to one of the "stars" waiting to return to the Commons, such as Michael Portillo. Page 4