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Rod Richards biography.

COLOURFUL would be one way of describing Rod Richards's life. As a politician he was never far from the headlines and as a man he has been through more than his fair share of domestic scrapes.

Born in Llanelli on March 12, 1947, Welsh-speaking Richards was educated at Llandovery College and then University College, Swansea.

After a short service commission in the Royal Marines between 1969 and 1971 he worked briefly as an economic forecaster before joining the Ministry of Defence's intelligence staff for eight years.

From 1983-1989 he worked in the BBC's news and current affairs department, broadcasting on S4C, and moved towards the front line of politics. He contested the Carmarthen seat for the Tories in 1987, and then the Vale of Glamorgan by-election in 1989.

Finally, after a spell as a special adviser to Secretary of State for Wales, David Hunt, Richards was elected to Westminster in 1992 at Clwyd North West with a 6,050 majority.

As a Tory MP with a taste for confrontation he soon earned the nickname ``Rod the Rottweiler''. In 1994 he launched his infamous attack on ``short, fat, slimy and fundamentally corrupt'' councillors in his Clwyd North West constituency.

In June 1996 his Westminster career crashed and burned. The 49-year-old Welsh Office Minister - married to Liz, a psychologist, with two sons and a daughter - resigned after tabloid revelations of an extra-marital affair with PR adviser Julia Felthouse, 28.

Further headlines followed in September the same year with the closure of the Ynyscedwyn Arms pub he owned in Ystradgynlais.

Two years later Richards resurrected his political career. In April 1998 he became the first person to be selected as a candidate for any political party for the inaugural National Assembly elections - at Clwyd West. As the first AM to be sworn in he became ``Father of the House''. His second spell in the public eye brought him the post of the Assembly's Tory leader, but it was also doomed and he resigned from the post after being arrested on July 27, 1999 in west London, after an incident involving Cassandra Melvin, 22.

In December 1999 he found himself in court in Kingston, London, pleading not guilty to a charge of assaulting a young woman. He was eventually acquitted.

In September 2002, Rod Richards's life seemed to hit rock bottom as he was forced to resign as an AM on health grounds.

He admitted to The Western Mail that he feared his alcoholism might kill him.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 10, 2002
Words:413
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