Stormy weather as Lib Dem falls into arms of Cheeky Girl

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Indy Politics

Lembit Opik, the Liberal Democrat MP with front-bench responsibility for Wales and Northern Ireland, has extended his brief to cover what are euphemistically termed "Ugandan affairs".

In a scandal demonstrating the old adage that politics is like showbusiness for ugly people, Mr Opik, 41, fell victim to Westminster's strangest " kiss-and-tell" story since Edwina Currie spilt the beans on John Major.

The MP was reported to have separated from his fiancée of two years, the TV weather girl Sian Lloyd, and replaced her with a younger model, 24-year-old Gabriela Irimia, a Romanian-born singer, model and reality television star who achieved fame as one half of the Cheeky Girls pop duo.

The bizarre love triangle emerged when both women decided to discuss their relationships with Mr Opik in interviews with Sunday newspapers. It made for surreal reading. Ms Irimia told the News of the World how she had met Mr Opik on the set of channel Five's All Star Talent Show in October. He was playing harmonica while Ms Irimia and her sister Monica were attempting ballet. Neither won.

She told the News of the World: "I was not the cause of his break up with Sian. Their relationship was dying before I came on the scene. Probably I gave him strength to end it."

Ms Lloyd gave an angry interview to The Mail on Sunday, saying the MP " isn't capable of an adult relationship" and that she now felt " more sorrow than anger" over their time together.

"Are they attractive, these Cheeky Sisters, or Cheeky Girls, or whatever they are?" she asked. "I don't do the sort of things they do - turning up for the opening of an envelope."

Mr Opik issued a statement yesterday saying his relationship with Ms Lloyd was over. He would not discuss Ms Irimia. "As we all know, the end of any personal relationship is always difficult, but these things happen," he said. "Sian and I had many happy times together and I will always treasure those."

Ms Irima's mother, Margit, told reporters that Mr Opik had stayed at the family home in Rye, East Sussex. She had seen him as perfect son-in-law material. "I was impressed with his behaviour. He honestly has so much charisma and is so nice," she said. She also revealed that Mr Opik had been given the seal of approval by the family dog - a 90kg Irish wolfhound called Rocky.

Mr Opik is best known for a lonely campaign to convince the Government to spend millions of pounds preventing the Earth from being hit by an asteroid.

The Cheeky Girls owe fame to the 2003 TV show Popstars: the Rivals, in which they performed the song "Cheeky Girls (Touch My Bum)". Channel 4 viewers later voted it the worst pop record of all time.

Party poopers

* CHARLES KENNEDY In January, after ITN threatened to broadcast details, Charles Kennedy called a press conference at which he admitted having treatment for alcoholism. Kennedy said there would now be a "back me or sack me" election, in which he would stand as a candidate. Two days later, he withdrew.

* MARK OATEN Home Affairs spokesman Mark Oaten was one of the first candidates to throw his hat into the ring for the party leadership. He lasted less than a fortnight before withdrawing in disgrace, after the News of the World revealed he had consorted with a male prostitute. Oaten has returned to the back benches, and is reconciled with wife Belinda, mother of his two children.

* SIMON HUGHES In an interview with this paper, another candidate, Simon Hughes, denied rumours he was gay. Two days later he was forced to admit his homosexual past. As a result, Hughes was accused of both lying, and hypocrisy: he had won his parliamentary seat on the back of a homophobic campaign against the Labour candidate Peter Tatchell in the 1980s. He was knocked out in the first round of the leadership ballot.