Wirral South MP Ben Chapman biography:
FORMER civil servant and diplomat Ben Chapman was the first ever Labour MP to represent Wirral South.
The seat's hitherto dyed-in-the-wool blue voters saw him as the acceptable face of the New Labour movement.
Its previous incumbent Barry Porter had been relied upon by the Conservatives to deliver majorities of 8,000 or more.
But at a by-election in February, 1997, held after Mr Barry's death, Chapman saw off opponent Les Byrom - the former Tory councillor in Sefton who defected to Labour last year - with a majority of more than 7,800 and a 17% swing.
Although the Labour win was merely a rehearsal for Tony Blair's landslide victory that May, Chapman had only been parachuted in at the eleventh hour after the previous candidate, Ian Wingfield, resigned amid allegations of domestic violence.
Chapman had reportedly only joined the Labour Party nine months earlier.
But just over twelve years later, the fog of negative publicity over the expenses debacle has forced him to step down.
Born in 1940 in Cumbria and educated at Appleby Grammar School in Appleby-in-Westmorland, he joined the civil service in 1958, working for the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance.
Following stints in the Ministry of Aviation and the Board of trade, he embarked on a foreign service career in 1974.
That saw him tour Tanzania, Ghana and China, before returning to the North West as the director for Merseyside and deputy regional director for the Department for Trade and Industry in 1991.
Between 1993 and 1995 he was the director for trade and industry for Government Office North West.
During his parliamentary career he served as a minister in the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions, the DTI and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
As recently as this week he was fighting to save the services at Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology and has asked written questions over the closure of Wirral's libraries.
He is divorced with three daughters and married his second wife Maureen in 1999.