Labour MP challenged over his bicycle accident story

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The Independent Online

* Labour backbencher Colin Challen has had a tough time these past few weeks, ever since he recently learned he would be forced to fight it out with Gordon Brown's trusty lieutenant, Ed Balls, at the next general election.

Challen currently MP for Morley and Rothwell, is to fight Balls for the right to stand in the newly-formed Morley and Outwood constituency, following boundary changes scrapping their respective Yorkshire constituencies.

Now, Challen faces differing accounts over his recent bicycle accident he suffered after hitting a pot hole in Westminster. "I was lying unconscious in the middle of the road and was extremely lucky not to have been hit by oncoming traffic," said an angry Challen in the Yorkshire Evening Post. "I am considering possible legal action."

Others who claim to have witnessed Challen's accident first hand, however, have since mischievously attempted to cast doubt over the MP's harrowing recollection, despite the fact he spent the night in hospital being treated for cuts and grazes.

"He was never unconscious," claims one.

"I saw the whole thing and helped him off the road, where he was for a matter of seconds.

"I called 999 on my mobile and they sent an ambulance, but the ambulance service made me feel pretty silly for calling them out for someone who wasn't seriously injured."

Unfortunately, Challen was unavailable for comment when I called.

* A delightful war of words has broken out between the television presenter Simon Amstell and the poodle-permed Queen guitarist Brian May.

May has attacked the former Popworld presenter after remarks Amstell, top, made on his show, Never Mind the Buzzcocks about We Will Rock You, the West End musical May wrote with Ben Elton. "That little git who comperes the programme obviously would love to be Ben Elton or achieve his success," says May on his website.

"He accused Ben of 'selling out'. I would love to see him argue the point with Ben himself... I know full well Ben would make him look very silly!"

Unfortunately, Amstell was unable to counter May's comments, though a spokesman said they were "happy to let the argument run".

* Dandyish comedian Russell Brand's attempts to connect with his bulging fanbase via the internet appear to have backfired.

On Monday evening, Brand invited his "friends" from the community website MySpace to attend a secret gig at the West End boîte Soho Revue Bar.

Unfortunately, a large proportion of guests were kept waiting outside in the cold for three hours before being turned away once the venue was full.

Since then, Brand, a confessed former heroin addict, has been deluged with complaints on his website.

Rather poisonously, one angry punter posts: "I liked you better when you were on the skag."

* Hard as it might be to imagine these days, there was a time when Menzies Campbell held the British record in the 100-metre sprint for nigh on seven years.

According to Westminster colleagues, Ming's been using the recent furore surrounding OJ Simpson's new book, If I Did It, to wax lyrical about the time he delivered "The Juice" an unceremonious ass-whipping on the running track. "According to Ming, back in 1967 he raced OJ in both the 100 metres and the 60-yard dash," I'm told. "Apparently, he absolutely destroyed him."

It's worth noting that Simpson is still considered one the NFL's fastest running backs of all time. Good for Ming, I say.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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