Page last updated at 11:27 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 12:27 UK

Opik 'will not be on Big Brother'

By Mark Lobel

Lembit Opik
Mr Opik's spokesman said it was the last thing on his mind

Lembit Opik has dismissed reports he is to star in the next series of Celebrity Big Brother as "absolute nonsense".

The Lib Dem MP told the BBC there was "no truth in it whatsoever" and his campaign team suggested the Sun story had been "mischief-making".

The former housing spokesman recently quit the party's front bench to focus on succeeding president Simon Hughes.

He is currently campaigning around the country ahead of the party membership vote on 7 November.

'Never keen'

A report in The Sun newspaper said Mr Opik, who has appeared on The All Star Talent Show, All-Star Mr and Mrs and Celebrity Weakest Link, would follow in the footsteps of Respect MP George Galloway by taking part in Celebrity Big Brother next January.

But Mr Opik refuted the story, saying: "Absolute nonsense. There is no truth in it whatsoever."

The 43-year-old has retained a high media profile after dating ITV weather girl Sian Lloyd for four years before they split up after a brief engagement.

All his energies are going into his presidential campaign
Richard Clein
Opik's campaign spokesman

He later proposed to Cheeky Girls singer Gabriela Irima, although their engagement was called off in July.

Recently Mr Opik has focused on projecting a more serious image to help his bid to become Lib Dem president, having failed in his initial bid in 2004.

He quit the front bench last month to put more time into his campaign against rivals Baroness Scott and Chandila Fernando.

Mr Opik said he had "politely declined" the programme's makers on several previous occasions and had not changed his mind this time.

Galloway experience

Mr Galloway was the first MP to take part in Celebrity Big Brother in January 2006, in which he imitated a cat while he purred and pretended to lick cream from actress Rula Lenska's hands before donating money raised from his appearance to charity.

Spokesman Richard Clein said that the last thing Mr Opik would want to do, should he win the Lib Dem presidency, would be to appear soon after on the Channel 4 show.

"All his energies are going into his presidential campaign which is going really well," Mr Clein said. "I think this is mischief-making, I don't know by who, but it's certainly mischief-making."

Opik recently said the popularity of his Facebook group indicated his campaign was going better than his rivals for the presidency.

However, Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne has expressed his backing for Baroness Scott, saying: "I'm backing Ros for a very simple reason - she's the right person for president."

Mr Fernando has promised to update the party's image, saying he is a "strong believer in the power of the broadcast media" to alter its fortunes.


SEE ALSO
Opik's Facebook poke at rivals
29 Sep 08 |  UK Politics
Opik leaves Lib Dem front bench
24 Sep 08 |  UK Politics
Opik in presidential bid
17 Sep 08 |  Wales
Galloway evicted from Big Brother
25 Jan 06 |  Entertainment
Galloway 'cat' act sparks anger
13 Jan 06 |  UK Politics

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