Derby election campaigner guilty over election fraud

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

A political activist who duped people into signing nomination papers has been found guilty of election fraud.

Christopher Fernandez, 59, from Derby, used the signatures to nominate Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates in the local elections.

Jurors at Derby Crown Court heard he collected signatures from residents who thought they were signing a petition about the closure of a swimming pool.

He was convicted of 12 counts of election fraud on Tuesday.

He had previously admitted making false statements on two nomination forms.

The court heard during the 2016 local elections in Derby, Fernandez, of Wingfield Drive, Chaddesden, was tasked with collecting 10 signatures from registered voters for each ward in which his party was standing.

'Heart of democracy'

Jurors were told many who signed his forms believed they had backed a petition about the closure of Moorways swimming pool.

The deception could have affected the direction of the city council, the jury heard.

Fernandez, who had denied 14 counts of election fraud, was found not guilty of two of the counts.

Following the conviction, Det Con Richard Foster, of the fraud investigation team at Derbyshire Police, said the actions of Fernandez attacked "the heart of democracy".

"Fernandez used the local and emotive subject of the closure of Moorways swimming pool to mislead people into believing they were signing a petition about its closure when in fact, they were signing a nomination form," he added.

He is due to be sentenced on 12 January.

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