PETER TATCHELL today stood down as the prospective Green Party candidate for Oxford East, claiming brain injuries suffered from beatings during his human rights campaigning.

Mr Tatchell was selected as the Greens candidate for the seat in April 2007, with the party claiming it was a target constituency.

It is currently held by Labour's Andrew Smith.

Mr Tatchell said his injuries would prevent him from campaigning effectively and representing Oxford East if he was elected.

He is blaming the injuries on beatings he suffered from a clash with minders of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe in Brussels in 2001 and during a demonstration in Moscow in 2007 supporting gay rights.

He also said he suffered head injuries in an accident in Devon during the summer.

Mr Tatchell said: "It is with great regret and reluctance that I am standing down as the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East.

"My brain injuries from the Mugabe and Moscow bashings mean that I would not be able to campaign effectively in the general election or do the duties required of an MP, if I was elected.

"The brain damage caused by Mugabe's thugs in Brussels in 2001 and by neo-Nazis in Moscow in 2007 has been compounded by head injuries in an accident while I was campaigning in Devon in July.

"A bus on which I was travelling swerved and braked sharply. I was thrown forward, hitting my head on a metal handrail.

"The injuries don't stop me from campaigning but I am slower, make more mistakes, get tired easily and take longer to do things.

"My memory, concentration, balance and coordination have been adversley affected. I can't campaign at the pace I used to.

"I was selected as the Green Party candidate for Oxford East in April 2007. A month later, I was badly beaten around the head by neo-Nazis during an attempted Gay Pride parade in Moscow.

"This exacerbated the brain damage caused when I was bashed unconscious by President Mugabe's bodyguards in Brussels in 2001, after attempting to make a citizen's arrest of the Zimbabwean leader on charges of torture.

"Following the Moscow assault, I never rested and recuperated. I carried on campaigning, with a very heavy schedule of commitments in Oxford East.

"After several months, I was severely exhausted. This stress and exhaustion probably intensified the damage and thwarted my recovery.

"I have postponed making this announcement for several months, in the hope that I might get better and be able to carry on as the Green candidate.

"Unfortunately, my condition has not improved. If anything, it is worse.

"There is, however, a glimmer of hope for the future.

"The medical advice is that if I slow down and reduce my workload my condition may improve in a year or so. On the downside, I am unlikely to ever recover fully. Some of the damage is probably permanent."

He added: "The Oxford Green Party expects to select a new parliamentary candidate in January. That person will have my wholehearted support.

"I intend to campaign with them during the general election.

"I would like to thank members of Oxford Green Party for their immense kindness, support, and generosity during my two and a half years as their candidate. It has been a pleasure working with the Oxford Greens and I wish them future success."