Scott wins support of local party to stay on

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Indy Politics
Sir Nicholas Scott, the former minister for disabled people, lived to fight another day yesterday after local party activists defied calls for his head.

He told John Corbet- Singleton, Chelsea constituency association chairman, that he intended to stand as an MP at the next general election.

The local association then effectively set the controversy surrounding Sir Nicholas to one side until the autumn, when a new association will choose a candidate for a new, merged seat.

The brief meeting followed a four-day silence from Sir Nicholas, 61, over allegations that he left the scene of a car accident in Chelsea after which three-year-old Thibault Perriard was treated for shock.

A number of local Conservatives let it be known that they strongly disapproved of Sir Nicholas' alleged action in abandoning the scene of the accident.But Sir Nicholas, who is currently on police bail after being arrested and breath-tested, appeared to win a measure of backing from the constituency party yesterday.

Barbara Lord, his agent, said yesterday that the incident, in which Sir Nicholas's female passenger was alleged to have been abusive towards the child's Swiss parents, had been "blown out of all proportion".

She added: "It really was a minor accident. We have not had umpteen constituents banging angrily on the doorstep and asking for his resignation."

Mrs Lord insisted that she was not saying that accidents involving children were unimportant, but claimed that she had received a letter from a couple asking why the child's parents "had not been had up for not using a zebra crossing."

Sir Nicholas's determination to tough the episode out came amid widespread expectations that he would offer to step down.

Mr Corbet-Singleton said in a statement after meeting the MP: "A number of issues were discussed, including the recent incident, upon which we have no wish to comment at this stage.

"Sir Nicholas has made it clear that he wishes to be considered, in due course, as a prospective candidate for the enlarged constituency of Kensington and Chelsea.

"This will be a matter for the future Kensington and Chelsea association when this is formed. It is likely to be the autumn before any selection process gets under way."

Sir Nicholas will still face tough opposition for the merged seat from the sitting Kensington MP, Dudley Fishburn.

Other possible contenders whose current seats are scheduled to disappear under boundary changes include James Arbuthnot, a junior Social Security minister, and Norman Lamont, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who would have strong support from constituency right-wingers.