Former BBC man Martin Bell becomes Unicef ambassador

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Martin Bell, who failed to win a second term as an independent MP, is to become an ambassador for the children's charity Unicef

The former BBC war correspondent, who was defeated in the June election battle for the Conservative seat of Brentwood and Ongar, will join other celebrities such as Robbie Williams and Jemima Khan to raise the profile of the children's fund's work across the world in "emergency situations".

He will be flown out to disaster-hit regions in a bid to boost the profile of Unicef's work for children.

A spokeswoman for the United Nations children's fund said Mr Bell would be sent to areas such as Kosovo and Burundi, where he has worked for the charity in the past.

She said: "He will go as a person the public recognises and a person with influence in certain spheres."

Famous as the "man in the white suit" and as a reporter wounded in the Bosnian War, Mr Bell, 62, was someone who could "understand a lot of situations" at very short notice, the spokeswoman added.

She said: "I am sure he will still speak as Martin Bell on many occasions, but he can also speak on behalf of Unicef."

Mr Bell resigned as a BBC correspondent at the 1997 General Election to take on – and beat – Conservative MP Neil Hamilton, then embroiled in the "cash for questions" scandal, in his Tatton constituency. This year, he failed to overturn Tory incumbent Eric Pickles.