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Tuesday, 15 May, 2001, 18:27 GMT

Vaz back in the spotlight

Embattled Europe Minister Keith Vaz has re-appeared in public to campaign in his Leicester East constituency.

Mr Vaz has adopted a low profile since he collapsed during a television interview in March.

But on Tuesday he made a short walkabout in Leicester city centre - accompanied by e-commerce minister Patricia Hewitt.

He declined to answer questions about investigations into his financial affairs and alleged links with the Hinduja brothers.

Instead, he was followed by about 30 banner-waving supporters before he attended a local constituency meeting.

A reporter asked him whether he thought he would prove to be an embarrassment to Labour at the general election.

Mr Vaz replied: "I have come to see the people of Leicester - you are a reporter, you are not the people of Leicester."

Mr Vaz was told by doctors to take an eight-week break from his ministerial duties after collapsing in March.

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook later accused journalists of harassing the minister, saying he had been pursued "mercilessly".

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