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Monday, 20 December, 1999, 08:48 GMT
Sex change brother backs defecting MP

Lesley Woodward: Brother Shaun paid for sex change

Shaun Woodward's brother - who became a woman after a sex change operation seven years ago - has supported his decision to join New Labour.

At her council flat in Clevedon, Somerset, she praised her brother's decision to the reporters who came knocking as "courageous".

Lesley Woodward added: "We're all Labour supporters here anyway."

The Tory leadership sacked Mr Woodward two weeks ago because he refused to back the collective position on gay rights.

He then decided to join Labour in protest to what he called increasing Conservative extremism.

He reacted angrily to questions about his elder sibling during media appearances the day after he announced his decision.

He claimed his former party of peddling the rumour and accused it of thinking "discrimination, prejudice and fear is the way to deal in politics".

He said: "We should actually live in a society in which people can be themselves and where we can allow individuals to achieve their full potential."

Dressing up in hotels

Mr Woodward took a similar stance in 1993 when he paid 10,000 for his brother's operation.

His wife, Camilla, who is a member of the Sainsbury family, added to the generosity by buying a 1,000 wig.

At this point, Leslie Patrick Michael changed his name to Lesley Patricia Michelle. For a time, she continued to live with her wife of 14 years, Sue.

Speaking of her past, she said: "I felt something was wrong when I was 16. When I was alone I would experiment with make-up and try on my mother's clothes.

"When I started work as a salesman and had to go on the road I would dress up in hotels.

"Now I hope that one day I can find a nice man and settle down."

Mr Woodward's father, Dennis, who also lives in Clevedon where the MP grew up, also expressed his support for his son's decision to switch sides in the House of Commons.

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See also:
19 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Tory defector denies Labour deal
19 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Tories face Woodward fallout

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