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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 August, 2004, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Fuel protester on UKIP shortlist
Andrew Spence
Mr Spence helped organise 2000's fuel protests
Fuel protester Andrew Spence is one of three people shortlisted by the UK Independence Party to contest the forthcoming Hartlepool by-election.

Mr Spence, a County Durham farmer, was one of the leaders of 2000's fuel protests.

Stephen Allison, an independent Hartlepool councillor, and businesswoman Christine Williamson are also up for selection by the party.

Robert Kilroy-Silk has confirmed he is not seeking selection.

Row denied

The newly elected Euro MP had been widely expected to stand for the UKIP in the by-election caused by Peter Mandelson's move to Brussels as Britain's European Commissioner.

Mr Kilroy-Silk denied reports he was blocked by party in-fighting, telling the BBC he had decided not to stand because he would have had to quit as an MEP.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he had wanted to contest the by-election, but had been advised he could not be both an MP and MEP.

Labour majority

Mr Spence is the best known of the three candidates put forward for selection, having been one of the key figures behind 2000's fuel protests. He recently organised a slow-moving convoy in Newcastle city centre to demonstrate at high fuel costs.

Mrs Williamson fought City of Durham for UKIP in the 2001 general election, gaining 3% of the vote.

Mr Allison, is described by UKIP as a "former Labour supporter" and election agent for Tory candidate Gus Robinson.

The three candidates will be interviewed tomorrow, followed by a selection meeting at Hartlepool's Grand Hotel.

Labour is defending a 15,000 majority in Hartlepool but recent by-election results at Birmingham Hodge Hill and Leicester South suggest it could have a fight on its hands.

Iain Wright, a local councillor and chartered accountant, was nominated at a Hartlepool Constituency Labour Party meeting on Friday night to contest the by-election for Labour.

The Liberal Democrats have nominated barrister Jody Dunn as their candidate, while the Tories are in the process of selecting a candidate.

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