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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 April, 2005, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Widdecombe OK with doctored photo
Ed Matts and Ann Widdecombe in the doctored photo
This photo was sent out with Ed Matts' campaign literature
Ann Widdecombe has said she is happy to be used in an election leaflet, even though the picture was doctored.

The image has been controversially used by Ed Matts, the Conservative candidate for Dorset South.

The original showed Ms Widdecombe holding a sign saying "Let them stay" - referring to a family seeking asylum.

But in the altered version, it says "Not chaos and inhumanity". Ms Widdecombe said she was "happy to be associated with either message".

I am happy to be associated with either message
Anne Widdecombe

Michael Howard had earlier said Mr Matts would not be sacked, despite opponents' calls.

The businessman, 42, is standing in the key marginal seat of Dorset South, and included the picture in his campaign literature.

The undoctored original showed him protesting, holding a photo of Verah Kachepa, a Malawian asylum seeker from Weymouth who has been threatened with deportation.

Ms Widdecombe, the Conservative candidate for Maidstone and the Weald, said she had received advanced warning about the publication of the photo and had spoken with Mr Matts to say she was "happy to be associated with either message".

"I did indeed hold up a placard saying 'let them stay' because I feel very strongly about that particular case and have made representation to the Home Office

"But I also support the message that we need a controlled immigration policy so whichever message Ed Matts had wanted to put out I would have supported," she said.

Mr Matts has since apologised for his "foolish mistake".

Also standing in Dorset South are Lib Dem Graham Oakes, the Respect-Unity Coalition's Berny Parkes, David Marchesi of the Socialist Labour Party, and the Legalise Cannabis Alliance's Vic Hamilton.



Sacking call over doctored photo
12 Apr 05 |  Election 2005