YORK MP Hugh Bayley came under fire today over his backing for war in Iraq.

Paul Kind, a member of City of York Labour Party's executive, was among 60 York Labour Party members who heard Mr Bayley oppose UK military action in Iraq without a second UN resolution, at a meeting earlier this month.

He made a similar commitment at a separate debate on Iraq at the TGWU offices in York late last month.

But yesterday, the MP supported the Government at the crucial Westminster vote on Iraq - set to be the last before war breaks out.

Among the 139 Labour rebels who voted against the Government was Selby MP John Grogan, who spoke of his "heavy heart" after voting against the Government for the first time.

Mr Kind said: "At that (the York Labour Party) meeting (Mr Bayley) declared his opposition to UK military action against Iraq unless such action was authorised by a second vote of the United Nations.

"Eleven days later those same people will feel a justified sense of outrage at the betrayal of their trust. If he did not believe his own words then he did not have to speak them.

"This is not Hugh Bayley standing up for York. It is Hugh Bayley lying down for Tony Blair."

Mr Bayley said today he had changed his mind over the weekend. He said: "I have had representations from York, letters and messages from York residents on both sides of the argument. It is impossible to reconcile them.

"I realise there is a strong feeling against war, but I have to follow my conscience."

He added: "I value the UN and wanted to go down the UN route. But when France said it would veto any resolution, the UN disintegrated."

Local Labour Party chairman David Ellis said Mr Bayley's stance was "very surprising".

* Harrogate Liberal Democrat MP Phil Willis backed the rebel amendment, which was defeated 396 to 217. Mr Blair was backed by Scarborough and Whitby Labour MP Lawrie Quinn, a Ministerial aide.

Tory Ryedale MP John Greenway and Vale of York MP Anne McIntosh supported the Government.

Updated: 11:11 Wednesday, March 19, 2003