Norfolk MP suffers family tragedy

Norfolk MP Richard Bacon's life turned from joy to tragedy yesterday when, two days after the birth of his first child, his mother-in-law was killed and his young niece seriously injured after being hit by a bus in London.

Norfolk MP Richard Bacon's life turned from joy to tragedy yesterday when, two days after the birth of his first child, his mother-in-law was killed and his young niece seriously injured after being hit by a bus in London.

Elizabeth Panton, mother of Mr Bacon's wife Victoria, died in hospital soon after the accident in which she was crushed against a wall.

She had come from Shropshire to see her new grandson Rollo, and was waiting for a bus to start the journey home.

Her daughter Sarah, Victoria's sister, suffered a leg injury, and Sarah's two-year-old daughter Pollyanna was rushed to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital where doctors were last night battling to save her leg.

It was at the same hospital that Rollo was born early on Monday morning.

Mr Bacon, the South Norfolk Tory MP, broke the news to his wife about her mother after they had gone home from the hospital for the first time. “This was supposed to be an incredibly happy day bringing our baby home. Now we're trying to come to terms with all of this”, he said.

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Last night the Norfolk political world united to pay their condolences to the family for their horrific loss. Baroness Gillian Shephard, former MP for the neighbouring constituency of South West Norfolk, said that all the couple's friends would be devastated but that Richard and Victoria could take comfort from the new life they had brought into the world.

The accident happened in Richmond, south west London, at 9.40am.

Mrs Panton had travelled from her home in Market Drayton on Tuesday to see the new addition to the family and had stayed with Sarah close to the accident site.

She had been waiting for a bus to take her into London, with her family there to see her off, when the number 209 mounted the pavement and crushed them against a wall.

Both Mrs Panton, who was in her 60s, and Sarah, who is married to Daily Telegraph journalist Christopher Hope, were taken to Charing Cross Hospital.

Mrs Panton died shortly afterwards while Mrs Hope was treated for an injury to her lower leg. Last night she was said to be in a stable condition. Pollyanna was said to be critical.

Police later arrested the bus driver in his depot. It is not known whether he had driven off from the scene. A Transport for London spokesman said that an investigation had been launched.

Following the tragedy, Mr Bacon was absent from a Commons debate on the Broads Authority Bill in which he had been intending to speak - despite arranging to take a week's paternity leave. Norwich North MP Ian Gibson informed the House that would not be appearing because of a family bereavement.

Last night Mr Simpson said: “All colleagues were deeply sympathetic for this terrible business. Everybody expressed their sadness for this awful loss.”

Baroness Shephard said: “All Richard and Victoria's friends will be devastated on their behalf. There is no comfort in this situation which will have come as an appalling shock.

“Everyone will want to offer comfort and as much help as they can but the only thing that can help is time and the new life that they have brought into the world.”

Rollo, who was born on Shakespeare's birthday and St George's Day weighing 6lb 11oz, was given the middle name William because both parents have relatives with it. Rollo is a Viking name which Victoria suggested and Richard fell in love with.

Mr and Mrs Bacon married in January 2006. He has been MP for South Norfolk since 2001 and has previously worked in banking, journalism and financial PR.

Mrs Bacon worked as a researcher for John Major during his time in Downing Street before joining the BBC, where she produced Breakfast with Frost and now works on various news programmes.

The pair spread their time between homes in Pulham Market, near Diss, and London.

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