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They say the bookie’s never lose, so news that odds have been slashed on Siobhan Benita’s prospects of becoming Mayor of London will be a welcome boost for the independent candidate for City Hall.

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Paddy Power dramatically shortened her chances of victory from a distant 500/1 - all the way down to 66/1.

Former Whitehall civil servant and mum, Mrs Benita, has been the subject of heavy interest on the online and high street bookmakers during the past 48 hours – with a high number of stakes of around £100 being laid on her scoring a huge upset in the poll on May 3.

In a surprise twist, more money has been bet on Mrs Benita at Paddy Power than even on Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick.

“It maybe that some people were tempted by her 500/1 odds,” a Paddy Power spokesman told London24.com.

“We have taken more bets on her than on (Green candidate) Jenny Jones and on Brian Paddick – which will be a disappointment for him,”

Mayor Boris Johnson remains favourite at 2/7 in what is widely seen as a two-horse race against Ken Livingstone.

Labour’s candidate and two-time former Mayor has seen his odds drift from 6/5 all the way out to 5/2. Controversy about Mr Livingstone’s tax affairs did damage to his campaign.

In contrast, Mayor Johnson letting rip at his rival with four-letter word volley failed to make an impression in the betting.

“The lift incident had no effect at all. People do not seem to be bothered by it. If anything people who like Boris Johnson for his personality will like him more as a result.”

Meanwhile, Siobhan Benita’s campaign received a boost from screen legend Tom Conti.

Mr Conti, who himself nearly ran as the Tory candidate for London mayor in 2008, said: “I support Siobhan running to be an independent mayor. She’s an interesting candidate and should be taken seriously. It would be very good to have a mayor who wasn’t from a political party”.

Mrs Benita welcomed Mr Conti’s announcement: ”I’m delighted that Tom Conti is supporting me running as an independent. He’s a well-know figure who himself seriously considered standing as the Tory candidate last time around - so he understands the importance of the role. Actually, it’s a shame he didn’t stand as I’m sure he would have done a great job.”

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