With his geeky looks and eccentric character, 45-year old Lembit Opik is not an obvious heart-throb. Yet no one could argue that he hasn’t had enormous success with the ladies.
In an exclusive interview and photoshoot with HELLO! he introduces his new girlfriend 21-year old Merily McGivern, whose ex boyfriend is a Zulu.
And she admits that her union with the ex MP raised eyebrows at first.
"When my Dad found out I was dating Lembit, he Googled him and wasn't happy. But he calmed down and, as soon as they met, they got on really well," she says. "It was the same with my friends: they judged Lembit on his public image, and were very pleasantly surprised on meeting him. Lembit is a very different person to the way he's portrayed in the Media."
Merily – who is also working as Lembit's PA – admits this is her first serious relationship. "I had one boyfriend who was a Zulu, so there was a cultural difference and that relationship only lasted three months. I've had casual relationships, but nothing that's really meant anything before this. I’d never even taken a man home to meet my parents before Lembit," she tells us – admitting that she didn’t know who he was before they met.
"The first thing he said to me was 'I'm really famous, you know!'," she remembers, as Lembit interjects: "In an ironic way!"
Since his split from weather presenter fiancée Sian Lloyd in 2006, the Liberal Democrat has been engaged to 27-year-old Gabriela Irimia, of The Cheeky Girls, and linked to lingerie model Katie Green, 23.
Now, Lembit, who lost his Montgomeryshire seat after 13 years in May's General Election and has since attempted a new career in stand-up comedy, admits his three-month union with the pretty student feels like "the sunshine after the rain".
Speaking in the tranquil surroundings of Champneys Forest Mere health spa in Hampshire, the couple already look very much in love.
Their paths first crossed at the Estonian Embassy – "for the Ambassador’s leaving do", explains Lembit – and the following week he asked her out on a date. However, at first, he may have been keener on the object of his affections than vice versa.
"I didn’t feel any need to Google him or ask around, because I didn’t think anything was going to happen between us," admits Merily, who says she doesn’t notice the 24-year age gap between the "youthful" pair. For that matter, neither does her beau.
"The simple way to describe it is: we share a world view," says Lembit – who adds that he "judges people by their character and not by their birth-dates. It’s an accident of fate that I was born in 1965 and Merily in 1989, and only an utter bigot would hold that against us".
See the full exclusive story in issue 1144 of HELLO! magazine, out now.