Lembit Opik gets face reconstructed years after crash
Former MP Lembit Opik joked that he could be headed for the catwalk as an international male model after surgery to transform his lopsided looks.
The Northern Ireland-born ex-politician smashed his jaw in an 8ft fall in a paraglider accident in 1998 in Wales.
It left the Royal Belfast Academical Institution alumnus with a crooked smile - although it didn't stop him making countless TV appearances on shows such as Have I Got News For You.
The accident in his Montgomeryshire constituency left Opik with a catalogue of major injuries - he broke his back in 12 places, as well as his ribs, sternum and jaw.
But now he intends to go under the knife, one of a series of operations in a two-year process.
"The operation will be happening in September, when they will break the bones in my face and then put everything right. There might be another op after that - it depends how it goes," he told the Sunday People.
Opik, who has become a glider pilot since the accident, said his teeth were very badly corroded and smashed up.
"I can't eat properly any more - I haven't been able to for five years - so I have to get my face straightened out again," he added.
"It's going to be reconstructed and I'm having it done on the NHS, which will save me a fortune.
"My face is almost my trademark. I've been given counselling where a surgeon said, 'The first time you look in the mirror after we've operated, you'll see a stranger'.
"I'd like to ask to look like Brad Pitt but I fear I'll come out looking like Saddam Hussein."
Despite the accident that smashed up his face, Opik (50) subsequently dated ITV weather presenter Sian Lloyd and pop singer Gabriela Irimia of the Cheeky Girls.
"I'm hoping women will feel sorry enough for me to go out with me. Frankly, any dream will do right now," he said.
"But maybe after my face is fixed I will be able to start work as an international male model."
He joked that his jaw problems had put him on what he called an "ironic diet".
"If you want to lose weight effortlessly, just smash your face up," he said.
"It also takes so long to eat - I finish eating long after anyone else - that it's probably good for the digestion."
The accident that could have killed him hasn't put Opik off danger though.
He rides a powerful motorbike, a Kawasaki 750, and has a pilot's licence.
"Maybe if I had the right kind of accident that would sort my face out and save surgeons a lot of bother," he said.