Neil Hamilton Makes Political Comeback As He Wins UKIP Seat In Wales
The disgraced former Tory MP scored a seat on the Welsh assembly 19 years after he was booted out of office.
Disgraced former MP Neil Hamilton has made a dramatic comeback to frontline politics by winning a seat for UKIP on the Welsh assembly.
The 67-year-old was elected for Mid and West Wales – 19 years after losing his seat as a Conservative MP in the wake of the "cash for questions" scandal.
Another former Tory MP, Mark Reckless, was also elected as a UKIP member of the Welsh assembly. With the count still ongoing on Friday morning, they were among seven new UKIP assembly members – the first Welsh seats ever won by the anti-EU party.
As his result was announced, Hamilton declared: "This has been quite a surprising turn of events for me.
"I hadn't anticipated at the age of 67 that I would once again be elected to public office, particularly after I had been liberated from it so spectacularly in 1997 by the electorate."
Hamilton first became an MP in 1983 and served as corporate affairs minister under John Major. But in 1994 The Guardian revealed allegations that he had accepted envelopes of cash from Harrods boss Mohamed al-Fayed in exchange for parliamentary questions.
He sued the paper for libel – after getting a 300-year-old law changed to allow a sitting MP to bring an action – but dropped the case at the eleventh hour. The affair led to him being unseated in the Cheshire constituency of Tatton by anti-sleaze candidate Martin Bell in 1997.
He and his wife, Christine, wasted no time in seeking to capitalise on their notoriety by accepting invitations to appear on all manner of TV shows including I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, Da Ali G Show, and Mastermind.
Hamilton told BuzzFeed News last month that his showbiz career would help him win votes. “People see us in a kind of soft-focus nonpolitical context, even though I’m standing there with a party rosette on," he said. "That means I can reach parts of the population that aren’t normally interested in politics at all."
Labour remained the largest party in the Welsh assembly after winning 29 seats out of a possible 60 as of Friday lunchtime.