A FORMER Dorset county councillor who became Ukip’s first MP is on trial accused of lying to voters and forging signatures.

Bob Spink, 69, allegedly took a “casual and misleading approach” while canvassing and collecting signatures to nominate Ukip candidates ahead of last May’s local elections.

Voters reported seeing “a very large man”, Ukip election agent James Parkin, 38, accompanying Spink collecting signatures, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Dr Spink, who served on Dorset County Council for eight years and was deputy chairman of Poole Conservatives, left Dorset after becoming Conservative MP for Castle Point in Essex. He became Ukip’s first MP in April 2008 after resigning from the Tories, later becoming an independent and losing his seat in 2010.

He lost out in the Essex police and crime commissioner (PCC) elections last year, while his co-defendant Parkin was beaten as a council candidate.

Tom Nicholson, prosecuting, said: “A part of this trial will look at the canvassing methods employed by Dr Spink on the doorstep.”

He added: “Did he use what we would say a casual and misleading approach on the doorstep to obtain signatures?”

None of the Ukip candidates were elected and there is no suggestion that there was anything improper with the 100 signatures obtained by Spink to stand in the PCC election.

Spink denies five counts of submitting false signatures on nomination papers, while Parkin denies six like charges.

The accusations relate to the local election for Castle Point Borough Council in 2016.

Prosecutor Tom Nicholson said: “In short, it is alleged that Dr Spink and Mr Parkin were involved in submitting a number of nomination forms, bearing signatures that had been obtained falsely.”

Jurors heard that prospective council candidates had to secure 10 signatures from local electors, while police and crime commissioner candidates required 100.

Voter Robert Duke discovered his name had been added to a nomination form to his “complete surprise”, the court heard.

“In fact, this signature was a forgery,” said Mr Nicholson.

A complaint was made to police and enquiries revealed Parkin was involved in the form’s completion, the court heard.

Officers then made calls to 128 signatories relating to the other 13 council wards with Ukip candidates. The appeal garnered 96 responses alleging two further forgeries and 26 others claiming they had been misled as to the nature of the document they were signing.

The trial is expected to last four weeks.

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