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Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 12:28 GMT
EastEnder linked to Labour seat
Cast of EastEnders
Celebrity politics: From the Queen Vic to the Queen's Speech?
An EastEnders television star has expressed interest in standing for parliament in a seat where the Labour candidate has just resigned, the BBC has been told.

Labour has started the search for a new candidate for Colchester following the resignation of Tim Young, who is facing charges of assaulting a police officer and dangerous driving.

Mr Young, 39, is due to be committed for trial in March and feels his pending court case will distract voters from his campaign.

Ross Kemp
Ross Kemp: A Labour supporter
A star - or former star - of EastEnders is currently looking for a seat to fight and has expressed interest in standing in the town, a senior Labour source in Colchester told the BBC.

The news comes less than two weeks after boxer Frank Bruno said he was considering contesting the traditionally safe Tory seat of Brentwood and Ongar against independent MP Martin Bell.

The identity of the soap opera star with political ambition has not been revealed, but among current stars and the show's alumni, Ross Kemp - who played Grant Mitchell - is probably the most high-profile Labour supporter.

Kemp recently quit as rector of Glasgow University following a motion of no confidence by the students' executive after failing for the second consecutive year to attend an event for new students.

But Kemp may be tied by his contract with London Weekend Television, reportedly worth more than 1.2m.

Recruiting a star name might be seen as a good way for Labour to move forward from what has been a high profile resignation.

But whoever becomes Labour candidate will face a tough general election fight in the three way marginal seat - one of the closest in the country.

'Impossible to carry on'

The Labour Party is expected to use its fast track system to appoint the candidate with a general election predicted for May.

Mr Young, 39, denies assaulting a police officer, dangerous driving, failing to stop after an accident, and failing to report an accident in Colchester on 30 November.

Speaking after a meeting of the constituency's general committee, Chris Lane, Labour East of England spokesman, said: "He stepped down in the wider interests of the party. It was just impossible to carry on."

Mr Lane said about 20 potential candidates were expected to express interest in contesting the seat currently held by Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell.

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See also:

25 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Candidate quits over criminal charges
12 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Bruno considers election fight
08 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Bell: A promise too far?
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