Iraq veteran to join Davis campaign

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Colonel Tim Collins, the British officer who was praised for his speech before the invasion of Iraq, is backing David Davis's by-election campaign against Big Brother anti-terror laws. Mr Davis, who has resigned as shadow home secretary to fight the by-election in his East Yorkshire seat over the extension of pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects to 42 days, said the retired colonel was a hero who would campaign with him.

"He is going to come and talk about how you defeat terrorism without using repression," Mr Davis said. Col Collins is best known for his address to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment, as they prepared for battle.

Mr Davis has rejected pressure from Tory leaders to give up his by-election bid, saying that Conservative support in one opinion poll has gone up two points since he made his stand against "Surveillance Britain". He said he had been inundated with calls of support from the public, and he has been offered backing from Labour dissidents including Bob Marshall-Andrews and Ian Gibson. Mr Davis attacked Gordon Brown for "gutlessness" in refusing to put up a Labour MP to fight him in the seat.

Mr Davis's stand risks overshadowing a speech today on green issues by David Cameron. The Tory leader will seek to reclaim the initiative by insisting the environment should remain on the political agenda, in spite of the rise in global oil prices and the credit crunch.

"I want to tackle an argument that when times are good, we can indulge ourselves with a bit of environmentalism, but when the economic going gets tough, the green agenda has to be dropped," he will say. "We will take forward our green agenda in a way that strengthens the economy – not green or growth, but both."