David Cameron and Maria Hutchings
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Cameron defends Eastleigh candidate Maria Hutchings

The prime minister has defended Eastleigh by-election Tory candidate Maria Hutchings's decision to drop out of a BBC 5 Live election debate.

David Cameron was visiting cable factory Prysmian in the Hampshire town, accompanied by Mrs Hutchings.

She had been criticised by some political rivals for being unavailable to take part in the debate earlier but Mrs Hutchings said she had needed to be at the factory visit early to prepare.

Speaking to BBC South's Political Editor Peter Henley, Mr Cameron defended her decision and criticised the BBC for covering the row, which he said was more about form than the substance of the campaign.