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Poll victory for Lawrence friend

PUBLISHED: 11:45 02 March 2009 | UPDATED: 11:22 12 August 2010

THE winner of a council by-election insists he hasn t got an eye on the top job in British politics despite romping to victory last Thursday.

THE winner of a council by-election insists he hasn't got an eye on the top job in British politics despite romping to victory last Thursday.

Liberal Democrat candidate Duwayne Brooks, 33, from Lewisham, secured 1,067 votes in the Downham by-election poll, alongside fellow candidate Jenni Clutten, 21, of Brockley, received 1,075 votes.

Ms Clutten gained almost double the 655 votes won by their closest rival, Labour candidate Damien James Egan and secured the party's control of the ward following the resignation of Lib Dem councillors Simon Carter and Mark Morris.

But a delighted Mr Brooks, who was best friends with murder victim Stephen Lawrence, has no real ambition to further his political career and is instead determined to use his success as a stepping stone in making his charity dream a reality.

He said: "A lot of hard work has gone into this. The Lib Dem team have been excellent. I'm happy that the residents of Downham have put their trust in us and I hope we can carry on the good work that Simon and Mark have done in the area.

"I don't want to be prime minister. My intention is to set up and run my charity, Brooks Foundation for Victims of Crime. That's my number one ambition, to get it running and help support victims of crime. I believe I could help more people that way, so at this moment in time I've got no aspirations to become an MP."

Mr Brooks, who has already earmarked safety issues for vulnerable people as a priority in the early days of his tenure, was with Stephen Lawrence when he was stabbed to death in 1993 in a racist attack in Eltham.

And 10 years on from the Macpherson report on the government's inquiry into the flawed investigation, Mr Brooks believes that appointments such as his and Ms Clutten's can only be positive in shaping the future of British politics.

He added: "If we were still friends, because of course school friends don't always stay in touch, I'm sure Stephen would be proud. Just like all my friends, they're all happy for me.

"The demographic of Downham has changed dramatically; 20 years ago it was a notoriously racist area, and I lived in Grove Park at that time. But it's all changed, and the Lib Dems have shown their respect for that by putting up a young lady and a black candidate."

Ms Clutten, who only turned 21 last Saturday, is currently in the second year of a politics degree at Goldsmith's University.

She said: "As such a young person I'm really, really pleased to have been elected. The support we've received has been so encouraging and I'm honoured to take on the role.

"I always wanted to be involved in politics in some way, and the important thing for me is local politics as people feel it there the most. People have been amazed that someone of my age is even interested in politics. I think many voters like having someone young, as it means people don't think of you as a tired, old corrupt politician."

Mr Brooks and Ms Clutten received 1,067 and 1,075 votes respectively, giving them a clear victory over Damien James Egan (Labour, 655), Christine Jane Allison (Conservative, 654), Pauline Susan Morrison (Labour, 635), Andrew James Lee (Conservative, 632), Tess Culnane (BNP, 287), Cath Miller (Green Party, 63) and Lee Roach (Green Party, 62).

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