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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 August 2006, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Brown heads disabled power list
Gordon Brown
Mr Brown office says he does not consider his eyesight a disability
Gordon Brown has been named the UK's most influential disabled person by Disability Now newspaper.

The chancellor - who lost the sight in one eye in a teenage rugby injury - headed a list of 25 including physicist Stephen Hawking.

Former home secretary David Blunkett, Paralympian Tanni Grey Thompson, artist Alison Lapper and BBC journalist Frank Gardner are also on the list.

A panel of experts chose the final 25 from 100 nominations by readers.

Mr Brown was nominated by Bert Massie, chairman of the Disability Rights Commission, who said the chancellor's impairment is recognised under the Disability Discrimination Act.

"I cannot think of a disabled business person, politician or lobbyist who has in his or her hands as much raw power and influence as Gordon Brown," said Mr Massie.

Campaigner

But his choice sparked controversy among the judging panel, with some suggesting he was not disabled enough to qualify.

In the end, the panel, which included Sunil Peck, who reports for BBC Radio 4's In Touch programme and writes for the BBC's Ouch! website, decided to include Mr Brown because he would fail to qualify for jobs in which vision in both eyes is required.

He also requires "reasonable adjustments" in his current job - speeches are typed in large text, the panel decided.

Mr Brown's office told Disability Now the Chancellor was "a bit surprised to be nominated because he's never really considered his eyesight to be a disability".

The newspaper's acting editor Sarah Hobson said: "The influence list shows that many disabled people shape the way we live, whether it's the taxes we pay, the art we view, the television programmes we watch or the buildings in which we work."

Labour peer Jack Ashley was voted the UK's second most influential disabled person.

Lord Ashley is deaf and has campaigned extensively on disability rights.

His recent Independent Living Bill is aimed at providing greater rights for the elderly and disabled.


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