Hazel Blears has said she is sorry she will not be able to attend tomorrow’s Pride events in London this year after her appointment yesterday as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The new minister overseeing equality and gay rights issues has a previous engagement.

It has been confirmed that the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Minister for Women, Harriet Harman, will address revellers in Trafalgar Square.

Ms Blears told PinkNews.co.uk:

“Pride is an important part of the national calendar – part celebration of the fantastic contribution made by the gay community, part defiance against prejudice and hatred.

“I hope everyone has a fantastic time, and I am sorry I can’t be with you in person.

“You know from my voting record in the House of Commons, I am with you in spirit, and I will continue to fight for the rights of the LGBT communities in our country.”

Other political figures speaking at tomorrow’s Pride event include the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, former Cabinet minister Lord Chris Smith, Lib Dem peer Baroness Ludford and one of only two out gay members of the European Parliament, Michael Cashman.