Brian Paddick, formerly the most senior out gay police officer in Britain, has won the race for the Liberal Democrats nomination for the Mayor of London. Mr Paddick, came third in the 2008 Mayoral contest and less than a year ago told PinkNews.co.uk that he would not stand for Mayor again.

In 2008, Mr Paddick came third with ten per cent of the vote, with Labour’s Ken Livingstone in second place behind winner Conservative Boris Johnson. All three are contenders for the 2012 election, this time held under a national Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition which may seriously change the nature of the contest.

Mr Paddick was won the 2012 Liberal Democrat nomination by a narrow margin, with 1,526 votes to Lib Dem London Assembly member Mike Tuffrey’s 1,476 after the two lowest candidates Brian Haley and Lembit Opik were eliminated.

Mr Opik, a former Liberal Democrat MP who like Mr Paddick has appeared on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here said: “I think like every great politician you have to have some wilderness years. Nelson Mandela had them. Many other people had them.”

Mr Paddick was Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police until 2007, and as such was the most senior openly gay police officer in British history. An alleged victim of voicemail hacking, he has become an outspoken critic of the way that his former force investigated voicemail hacking by private investigators working for the News of the World.

Tonight, Mr Paddick said: “I hope to visit every local party in London, to meet the activists whose support we rely on year after year and to raise as much money as possible for the campaign ahead. I know from personal experience how tough the GLA [Greater London Assembly] Elections are for us as a party and next year will be no exception. I promise to devote myself full-time between now and May to securing the best possible result for the Liberal Democrats and with your help, we can deliver the best result we have ever had in the history of the GLA elections.”

Welcoming his election, Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: “Brian’s experience is exactly what London needs right now. Whether dealing with the aftermath of the riots or phone hacking and corruption in the Metropolitan Police, Brian has shown in recent weeks that he has the authority and leadership that London needs.

“Brian provides Londoners with a real, credible alternative to Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstsone.”