Norfolk community stalwart told he can no longer carry Olympic torch

A community figure nominated to carry the Olympic torch later this year has been told he is no longer eligible because of his role in local politics.

Carl Clark, 49, had been selected to run 300 metres with the flame on the leg between Chelmsford and Cambridge on July 7, surrounded by his family and friends as a reward for his work in Thetford.

But following routine background checks, Mr Clark has been told by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games that he is unable to be a torchbearer because he is also a councillor.

A spokesman said elected officials were not allowed to become torchbearers, adding it was important the event remained 'above politics'.

Mr Clark, of Ripon Way, Thetford, a Breckland and Thetford town councillor for the Thetford Abbey ward, who is a pastoral outreach worker at the Bishops Primary School, was nominated by Thetford Healthy Towns for his work, including running a boxing club for young people and a cycle share scheme.

This has taken in and redistributed hundreds of bicycles to young people and those in need around the town.

Mr Clark said: 'It was the torchbearer committee which phoned me saying 'we did not realise you were a Labour councillor', they then said 'we cannot have a politician running'.

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'I'm not disappointed as they asked me to nominate someone to run for me who I thought would be a good candidate and he is now on their website as an official runner.'

Mr Clark has selected David Pickup, 33, who works at the Bishops Primary School and helps run his boxing club to run in his place.

Mr Pickup will now carry the torch on July 7 through Newport in Essex.

A London Olympics spokesman added: 'We unfortunately only became aware of Mr Clark's position as a local councillor during the background and security checks which were carried out after the conditional offers were made.

'We apologise for any inconvenience caused and we hope that he will still be involved in the celebrations when his nominee carries the torch in his place.'

Some 8,000 inspirational people will carry the Olympic flame through Britain as part of the torch relay, which the London 2012 Organising Committee selected from more than tens of thousands of nominations. More than 80 of these were chosen to carry the flame through our region.