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By Tobias Ellwood
By Ben Guerin
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Former Conservative MP found guilty of electoral fraud

2 min read

A former Tory MP has been found guilty of tricking voters into signing nomination papers for UKIP candidates, when they believed they were backing the Conservatives.

Elderly voters signed papers they believed were for Conservative candidates in local elections but were instead signing for the anti-EU party, of which Bob Spink is now a member.

The former Conservative MP for Castle Point in Essex defected to UKIP in 2008 and was found guilty of four counts of electoral fraud at Southwick Crown Court on Friday.

Dr Spink had been standing for election as the local Police and Crime Commissioner when he tricked the “elderly and infirm” into signing his nomination papers in April last year.

A court heard how elderly signatories did not understand what they were signing, and how he continued to collect signatures from people unaware he was the UKIP candidate for the Castle Point Borough Council elections.

Spink argued that everyone knew what they were signing and he only introduced the topic of the local elections once he had had gained their support for his campaign to become a police and crime commissioner (PCC).

James Parkin, 39, Ukip's election agent at the time, was found guilty of two counts of the same offence, and found not guilty of three. He had already admitted two counts.

A police investigation into the Castle Point Borough Council elections began before polling day when a resident called Rupert Duke discovered his name had been added to a nomination form for a Ukip candidate called Lucy Parkin - who was a relative by marriage of the younger defendant.

Mr Duke told police he had never signed the form as he was a Tory voter "and would never have had anything to do with Ukip".

Prosecutor Tom Nicholson pointed to local residents whose signatures appeared on nomination forms apparently backing Ms Parkin as a Ukip local election candidate.

They said Dr Spink and another man believed to be Dr Parkin failed "in various ways to explain properly what they were asking residents to sign".

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