[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC News in video and audio
Last Updated: Thursday, 21 December 2006, 20:43 GMT
MP 'in clear' on Cheeky Girl visa
Lembit Opik MP
The MP said he discussed the visa with the minister in the Commons
Welsh Liberal Democrat officials have said they are satisfied MP Lembit Opik did nothing wrong in discussing his new girlfriend's visa problem.

The Welsh Lib Dem leader mentioned Cheeky Girl star Gabriela Irimia's case to immigration minister Liam Byrne.

The Montgomeryshire MP, 41, recently announced the end of his engagement to ITV weather presenter Sian Lloyd.

Local party officials met him and said they accepted his explanation that there was no wrongdoing.

Officials had been concerned about the publicity surrounding the case and asked the MP to explain his actions.

It emerged on Wednesday that Mr Opik passed documentation onto the East Sussex constituency MP of Miss Irimia and her sister Monica, and spoke to Mr Byrne when they met in a corridor after the Cheeky Girls' application to remain in the UK was turned down.

Cheeky Girls Monica and Gabriela Irimia
Gabriela (R) says her friendship with the MP is "not a pantomime"

A Lib Dem spokesman said the MP had shown "total propriety" and had not lobbied on the singers' behalf.

But his local party demanded Mr Opik, their MP for nine years, explain himself.

On Thursday, Mr Opik told the BBC that he had asked Mr Byrne for advice on the issue and the minister had told him to pass it on to Miss Irimia's MP Michael Foster (Lab, Hastings and Rye) which he said he did by telephoning his office.

"I simply told Liam Byrne in the House of Commons what I had done and thanked him for his advice," said Mr Opik.

"I did not discuss the details of the case with him but simply told him I had taken his advice and passed the issue on to Gabriela's local MP."

Mr Opik hit the headlines last weekend when it emerged his two year engagement to Ms Lloyd, 48, was over and he was now going out with Miss Irimia.

The MP said he and Ms Lloyd had separated "some time ago" and it was "no secret" that he was seeing Miss Irimia.

The singer in turn has said their relationship was "genuine" and "not out of a pantomime".

He assured party officials there was no overlap in the relationships.

Lembit Opik MP with former girlfriend weather presenter Sian Lloyd
Mr Opik and Ms Lloyd recently separated

The Cheeky Girls arrived in the UK from Romania in 2002 and shot to fame with appearances on reality TV shows Popstars: The Rivals and Model Behaviour.

Their first single The Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum) climbed to number two in the charts.

The duo faced bankruptcy this summer when Telstar, their record company, collapsed.

Romania is due to join the European Union in January, which means its citizens will have the right to travel freely within Europe.

Self-employed people from the country are free to work in the UK after 1 January.

The Evening Standard reported that a Whitehall source said that the Cheeky Girls were not likely to be pursued for deportation.

When asked about the case by the BBC, Mr Byrne said he could not comment on individual cases.

Clip from a Cheeky Girls performance

MP intervened in Cheeky Girl case
20 Dec 06 |  UK Politics
Cheeky Girl's 'love' for MP Opik
19 Dec 06 |  UK Politics
Debut single for Lib-Dem MP
16 Dec 02 |  Wales

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific