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Last Updated: Friday, 5 March, 2004, 11:39 GMT
Man-in-white stands for Euro seat
Martin Bell
Martin Bell became famous for his white suits
Former MP and BBC war correspondent, Martin Bell, is hoping for a return to politics in his home region.

He has announced he is to stand as a candidate for election to the European Parliament.

Mr Bell was born in Suffolk and joined the BBC's evening news programme Look East at Norwich after Army service.

He told BBC Radio Norfolk he would be an independent moderate Eurosceptic, committed to fighting corruption "at the heart of the EU".

Cash for questions

As MP for Tatton in Cheshire in the 1997 General Election he stood against Tory Neil Hamilton, the MP at the centre of the so-called "cash-for-questions" affair.

Both the Labour and the Liberal Democrat candidates stood down to give him a clear run.

Having promised in his election campaign that he would only serve for one term, Mr Bell felt obliged to stand down as the Tatton MP in the 2001 election, despite strong support in the constituency for him to carry on.

Instead he ran in the Essex constituency of Brentwood and Ongar, where he was defeated by the sitting Conservative MP, Eric Pickles.

Return to region

In the European elections on 10 June, he will be contesting the seven-seat Eastern Region, which covers Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

"I am a passionate believer in democracy and honest politics," said Mr Bell, who was born in Redisham, Suffolk, and educated at Cambridge University.

"It is in these causes that I am standing again as an independent in the eastern region. I believe in a democracy that serves local needs rather than party interests.

"The present electoral system doesn't do that. It lists the candidates in the parties rather than the voters' order of preference.

"It breaks the constituency link, which has until now been the bedrock of our parliamentary democracy."

Although he now lives in London, he grew up in the Waveney Valley in Suffolk and has said he will return to the region if elected.

His father Adrian Bell was a leading columnist for the region's newspaper the Eastern Daily Press for 30 years and wrote books about the region's life and landscape.

Martin Bell jumps to the beat
11 Mar 03  |  Entertainment


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