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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 December 2006, 21:05 GMT
Opik and presenter Lloyd separate
Lembit Opik and Sian Lloyd
Mr Opik said he would treasure the couple's 'happy times'
Flamboyant MP Lembit Opik has announced he is dating one of pop duo the Cheeky Girls, after confirming he and weather presenter Sian Lloyd have split up.

The Montgomeryshire Liberal Democrat MP said in a statement that he and fiancee Ms Lloyd had separated "some time ago".

Mr Opik said: "The end of any personal relationship is always difficult, but these things happen."

He later said it was "not a secret" that he was going out with Romanian pop singer Gabriela Irimia.

'Treasured memories'

Mr Opik, 41, and weather presenter Ms Lloyd announced their engagement in 2004 and had been together for four years.

He said: "It is true that the relationship between Sian Lloyd and myself ended some time ago.

She is a normal girl and he is a normal man and he honestly has so much charisma and is so nice
Margit Irimia
Cheeky Girls' mother

"However, I continue to regard Sian as one of the brightest, most out-going, hard working and generous people I've had the privilege to know.

"Sian and I had many happy times together and I will always treasure those.

"Sian has also done a great deal of work in the interests of a number of charities and causes, including the Motor Neurone Disease Association, and I really admire that.

"I hope that she will remember the happy times as we both go our separate ways. I wish the very best for her."

He asked the press to "treat this matter with a degree of sensitivity".

A spokesman for Mr Opik added that both he and the Liberal Democrats did not intend to comment further on "this private and personal matter".

'Impressed'

Meanwhile, Gabriela Irimia's mother and manager Margit confirmed that Mr Opik and the Cheeky Girls singer were in a relationship and that he had visited the family home in East Sussex.

The Cheeky Girls
Romanian twin sisters The Cheeky Girls have had novelty hits

Ms Irimia said: "He was very relaxed because when you go to visit somebody at home you are not on an official engagement.

"I was impressed with his behaviour. She is a normal girl and he is a normal man and he honestly has so much charisma and is so nice."

Ms Irimia said the first "date" between Mr Opik and her daughter had been a trip to the Science Museum in west London.

"She is impressed that she can talk to him about so many different things. She is happy but I do not say more," she said.

Ms Irimia also said she had no concerns about the age gap between the couple.

"At 24 she is a young woman, not a naive girl. She is a wise woman who knows exactly what she wants," she said.

Mr Opik later told the Press Association, as he arrived at his constituency home in Newtown, Powys: "Me going out with Gabby is not a secret.

"I don't want to be awkward, but I've thought about this a lot, and all I want to say is in the statement."

Asteroid expert

Mr Opik, who was born in Northern Ireland, has represented Montgomeryshire since 1997.

He is the Welsh Liberal Democrat leader and is an expert in near-Earth objects such as asteroids or comets.

He has campaigned for the government to take the threat of a collision more seriously.

During their relationship, ITV presenter Ms Lloyd started teaching Mr Opik Welsh.

He proposed marriage while piloting a light aircraft, 3,000 feet above Wales.

In April this year they appeared on Celebrity Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, winning £64,000 for charity.


SEE ALSO
'Unique' ring for Sian
25 May 04 |  Mid Wales
Öpik and Lloyd to marry
25 May 04 |  Wales
Celebrity sun shines on Sian
23 Apr 03 |  Wales
MP tries out language skills
01 Aug 03 |  Wales
Debut single for Lib-Dem MP
16 Dec 02 |  Wales

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