Bob Spink found guilty of election fraud

Image caption,
Bob Spink told the court he had collected more than 1,000 signatures in his career

A former Tory MP and UKIP politician has been found guilty of election fraud.

Bob Spink, 69, former MP for Castle Point, Essex, committed the offences during the Castle Point borough council elections in May last year.

A jury at Southwark Crown Court found him guilty of four counts of permitting a false signature to be included on a nomination form for a UKIP councillor.

UKIP agent James Parkin, 38, of Canvey Island, was also convicted.

He was found guilty on two counts of the same charge.

Image caption,
UKIP agent James Parkin was also convicted

Judge Ian Graham said: "These types of offences are taken very seriously."

Jurors heard Spink tricked "elderly and infirm" voters into signing the forms in April 2016, without making it clear what the documents were or which party he represented.

The court heard people in Spink's constituency signed forms believing they were petitions, and having no idea they were supporting the UKIP candidate in the Castle Point council elections.

Spink claimed everything was above board; that residents knew what they were signing; and that he only introduced the topic of the local elections once he had gained their support for his campaign to become a police and crime commissioner (PCC).

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Mr Spink told the court he had been involved in politics for 30 years

The pair were found guilty by majority verdicts. They will be sentenced in the new year. Both men were released on bail.

Mr Spink, from Benfleet, Essex, was Conservative MP for Castle Point from 1992 to 1997, and again from 2001.

In 2008, he defected from the Conservative Party and joined UKIP, effectively becoming its first MP.

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