The former Sun editor, Kelvin MacKenzie, has announced his intention to stand in the Haltemprice and Howden by-election, following the shock resignation of Tory MP and shadow home secretary David Davis.
MacKenzie said News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch and Sun editor Rebekah Wade had suggested he represent the paper, campaigning in favour of the extended 42-day limit for detaining terror suspects.
Speaking on the Radio 4 Today programme this morning, MacKenzie insisted the announcement was “not a publicity stunt”.
“Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Wade both suggested to me last night that I might be the person to fill the hole,” he said.
“I’m The Sun’s man. I’ve been associated with The Sun for 30-odd years. I have an umbilical cord to the paper.”
David Davis said yesterday he was stepping down as an MP and shadow home secretary on a point of principle, after Gordon Brown’s anti-terror bill was passed in the Commons by just nine votes.
MacKenzie said The Sun had been “very up” for Brown’s proposal to extend the maximum limit that a terror suspect can be detained without charge to 42 days.
“The reality is that I don’t view my civil liberties as being at risk, but I do view my life being at risk if I’m on the Tube or the train and some bad guy wants to blow me or my family up,” he said.
“I’m prepared to do anything to avoid that.”
He added: “If I’m not doing anything wrong, I don’t feel I’m under any kind of threat. I’m puzzled at all these libertarian arguments that are coming out.”
MacKenzie will be hoping the Sun’s seven-million-plus readership – according to the National Readership Survey – will boost his chances of election.
Last month, he failed in his bid to be elected councillor in his home town of Weybridge, Surrey. He received 227 votes.