Derby election campaigner denies duping voters with pool petition

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Christopher Fernandez denies 14 charges of election fraud

A political activist "never went out with the deliberate intention to deceive people", a court has heard.

Christopher Fernandez admitted taking a petition against a leisure centre closure with him but denied using it to collect election nomination signatures for Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates in the 2016 local elections in Derby.

The 59-year-old said it was to show his previous campaigning work.

He denies 14 charges of election fraud.

Derby Crown Court previously heard from residents who said they believed they were signing a petition against the Moorways pool closure but not backing TUSC candidates.

Candidates representing the party stood in eight wards in the elections for positions on Derby City Council in last year's elections.

Image caption,
Eight candidates stood for the TUSC in the 2016 elections for positions on Derby City Council

The court heard evidence from John Hudson - who has died since giving his account to police - saying he believed Mr Fernandez was an independent candidate.

Mr Hudson told police he did not know the form belonged to another candidate, or that they were representing the TUSC, and said he felt misled.

Mr Fernandez, of Wingfield Drive, Chaddesden - who admitted making false statements on two nomination forms when appearing in court in April - told the court the nomination form was on top of his clipboard, and the petition underneath.

He said he knew the rules on door-to-door canvassing and took measures to ensure residents were aware of what he was doing.

"The first thing I did was ask if they were on the electoral register," he said.

"I had to make sure that they were understanding what I was saying."

The trial continues.

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