A YOUNG, female barrister from Finchley has been shortlisted as a candidate for the next Mayor of London, and vows to knock 'Punch and Judy' off their perch.

Liberal Democrat party members will vote next month to chose between Chamali Fernando, 28, and two other shortlisted candidates, with the winner going on to campaign for election in May 2008.

Despite the seemingly unassailable hold on the polls by the incumbent Ken Livingstone and flamboyant Tory challenger Boris Johnson, Ms Fernando believes she stands a chance of winning.

She said: "I wouldn't be standing if I didn't think I could win. Ken and Boris are a Punch and Judy double act more interested in being celebrities than anything else."

Ms Fernando admits that she is relatively inexperienced in politics and her current role in the party involves co-ordinating youth events. But she insists that she is ready for the job.

She said: "Politics affects everyone and I want to campaign on issues that affect London most. I'm a fresh face but I want to inspire Londoners to take part in the democratic process."

She highlighted vandalism in Mill Hill and problems with the Tube as two local issues, arguing that Mr Livingstone has ignored the outer London boroughs.

She added: "The Lib Dems have been campaigning for CCTV and better street lighting for 18 months now. And the Tube has been grossly mismanaged.

"There are huge problems in London and the city is ready to change. London has given me a fantastic cultural experience and education, and it's time to give something back."

On Monday, online bookies Paddy Power offered odds of 8-13 on for early favourite Ken Livingstone, with Boris Johnson at 11-8.

While the odds clearly favour those two, Ms Fernando will hope to come in above rank outsider Jade Goody, at 500-1.