Mark Hunter holds Cheadle for the Liberal Democrats

The by-election was caused by the sad death of Patsy Calton from cancer. The campaign had been marked by Lib Dem accusations of Tory dirty tricks and negative campaigning, over one of which legal action was threatened. The Times said the Lib Dems were getting a taste of their own political medicine but Hunter achieved a majority of 3,650 and a 0.6% swing from the Conservatives whose candidate Stephen Day had lost the seat to Calton at the 2001 general election.