Election '97: Tumim may stand in Tatton

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Indy Politics
Judge Stephen Tumim, the retired HM Inspector of Prisons, has been approached by the Liberal Democrats to stand against Tory MP Neil Hamilton as a joint-party "Anti-Sleaze" candidate in the Cheshire constituency of Tatton.

Judge Tumim, who is currently out of the country, was said by Liberal Democrat sources to have spoken to a senior party figure about the plan for both Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates to stand aside, should Mr. Hamilton continue to contest the seat.

It is also understood that the former Beirut hostage Terry Waite, has ruled himself out of standing against Mr. Hamilton, who has been the focus of persistent sleaze allegations.

The local Labour Party, whose candidate for Tatton, Jon Kelly, offered to stand down to make way for an independent challenger last Saturday, said it was "happy in principle" with some of the names suggested, but stressed that initial discussions were not being made at local level.

The apparent coalition between the parties appears to indicate a renewed attempt to force Mr Hamilton to stand down, despite the support of his local Tatton Conservative Association. There were also suggestions yesterday that the North West Regional Conservatives were applying pressure to Mr Hamilton, although a spokesman denied this."

Mr Hamilton, speaking exclusively to his constituency's local paper, The Knutsford Guardian, yesterday, said he would not resign, despite the intense pressure placed upon him.

"Errors of judgment and misinterpretation of rules are not synonymous with dishonesty. MPs are no better, nor worse, than the population at large. Every barrel has its rotten apples. I am not one of them," Mr Hamilton said.

"I have no intention of surrendering to a squalid witch-hunt by newspapers," he added.

But the former trade minister said it would be a miracle if public confidence in him had not been affected by "dishonest" media coverage.