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Last Updated: Friday, 18 May 2007, 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK
Opik made TV show as Lib Dems met
Ian Hislop and Lembit Opik on Have I Got News For You
Lembit Opik alongside team captain Ian Hislop on the BBC show
Welsh Lib Dem leader Lembit Opik was recording BBC TV quiz Have I Got News For You as his party held a key meeting on the next assembly government.

But he said it was not right to say he was absent just because of the show.

The Montgomeryshire MP was in London as his party met in mid Wales and suspended coalition talks with Labour.

The MP - who has also been in the news over his relationship with Cheeky Girl pop star Gabriela Irimia - said he welcomed feedback from party members.

Although Mike German leads the Lib Dems' group of six Assembly Members, Mr Opik is the leader of the party in Wales.

But Mr Opik was not in Llandrindod Wells as fellow Lib Dems met to call off talks with Labour and opted instead to negotiate with Plaid and the Tories.

I know it was an historic occasion and I know he was very sad to have missed it
Mike German

The MP, who has been on Have I Got News For You several times before, will appear again on Friday's edition of the show, at 2100 BST on BBC 1, alongside team captains Paul Merton and Ian Hislop and guest presenter Chris Tarrant.

Mr Opik, 42, has recently attracted press attention for his private life after the end of his engagement to ITV weather presenter Sian Lloyd and his subsequent relationship with Gabriela Irimia, 24.

'Very rational'

He reacted to the decision of the party's national executive to negotiate with fellow assembly opposition parties as "very rational, very responsible".

Labour failed to win a majority at last month's assembly election, and it had been expected to recreate its coalition with the Lib Dems. But there is a growing possibility that Plaid, Conservatives and the Lib Dems could now form a "rainbow coalition" government.

Cheeky Girls Monica and Gabriela Irimia
Mr Opik started dating Cheeky Girl Gabriela (right) last year

Mr Opik said he was due to be in Parliament in London on Friday morning and would have faced a nine-hour trip if he had attended the meeting.

However, he said he was happy to take feedback from party members if there was an issue.

Mr Opik said that Mr German and the assembly group were taking the lead in the negotiations and he was comfortable with the direction the party was heading.

He said he had talked to all the members of the executive before the meeting and had worked with them closely so they knew exactly where he stood.

Mr German said Mr Opik had explained in advance that he would not be present.

"I don't know what the reason was but he couldn't be there and he told us that and he circulated his views to the party," he said.

"I know it was an historic occasion and I know he was very sad to have missed it."

He confirmed that Mr Opik had "rung and talked to" all the executive members.

"He'd made his views clear, he had presented his position, he had told us before he couldn't be there and that's as far as it'll go."

Mr Opik is expected to attend the next meeting of the party's national executive on Tuesday.

MP Opik 'flattered by happiness'
19 Jan 07 |  Northern Ireland

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