Ukip’s Steven Woolfe is being investigated for electoral fraud just days after he was expelled from the party’s leadership race.
Mr Woolfe, the party’s migration spokesman, is being investigated by Greater Manchester Police over claims he did not declare a conviction for drink driving when he stood for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner in 2012.
The force has received a complaint about Mr Woolfe’s 2002 conviction which would have barred him from standing for the role in 2012.
Mr Woolfe said he “forgot about the conviction” when he stood in the Greater Manchester PCC election in 2012.
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Mr Woolfe had been tipped to become the frontrunner in Ukip’s leadership campaign after impressing since becoming an MEP for the North West in 2014 CLICK HEREBut the 48-year-old former lawyer missed the nomination deadline by 17 minutes.
He was barred from standing after he submitted his application to become a candidate after the official deadline and has faced claims that he had failed to keep up his membership.
Mr Woolfe said he “forgot about the conviction” when he stood in the Greater Manchester PCC election in 2012, in a possible breach of electoral law.
Supporters of Mr Woolfe, who stood for Parliament in Stockport last year but finished third, have reacted angrily.
Mr Woolfe had indicated that he would focus Ukip on becoming a party for social mobility, in a direct targeting of Labour’s core voters, particularly in northern heartlands.
“The one thing I can say to the people of the North and the Midlands who voted Brexit and who are tired of the Labour Party leaving them behind, Ukip is now the party for you and your new home,” Woolfe told IBT.
“We did it for immigration, we did it for the referendum and now we’re going to do it for social mobility too.”
Ukip has been riven by in-fighting as rival factions battle to secure control of the party.
Nigel Farage has attacked NEC members as “among the lowest grade of people I have ever met” and has long been at odds with Douglas Carswell, the party’s only MP, and Neil Hamilton, its leader in the Welsh Assembly.
Former deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans, who was suspended from the party earlier this year after repeated clashes with Mr Farage, said Mr Woolfe is “probably ineligible”.
Mr Farage, who announced he was quitting after the Leave victory in the EU referendum, said Ukip members should vote for the candidate who will best represent the party “on the big media stages” and around the country.
He urged his successor to “bypass” the NEC, claiming the governing body contains “total amateurs” who have acted as a “barrier to radical change and modernisation”.