UKIP’s first MP Bob Spink has denied electoral fraud following allegations he submitted false signatures on nomination papers.
The former Essex MP appeared at Southend Magistrates’ Court todayu alongside co-defendant James Parkin, 38.
Spink, who defected from the Tories in 2008, denied a total of 14 offences relating to the local council elections in May last year.
He was dressed in a black suit and blue and burgundy tie and shook his head as his charges were read out to the court.
Spink is accused of “obtaining the genuine signature of an elector for the purposes of nominating a candidate, despite the elector not knowing it was for that purpose” in the Castle Borough of Essex on or before April 5.
Parkin, a UKIP party campaigner, of Canvey, Essex, also denied five allegations of electoral fraud and four charges of supplying a false signature on nomination papers.
Mr French, prosecuting, said the case would be suitable to be tried at the magistrates’ court but the pair opted to be tried by a crown court jury.
“These charges pertain to the obtaining of false signatures for the local elections, some charges relate to people not realising what they were signing,” said the prosecutor.
The pair were released on bail to appear before a judge on June 5.
Spink was the Tory MP for Castle Point between 1992 and 1997, and won the seat again at the 2001 election.
He defected to Ukip in 2008, becoming the party’s first MP, but left later that year. He lost his seat in 2010 to Tory Rebecca Harris but later re-joined Ukip.
Yorkshire-born Spink also recently unsuccessfully stood for Ukip to become Essex Police and Crime Commissioner, losing out to Tory candidate Roger Hirst.
Parkin served as Ukip’s election agent and also stood in Castle Point’s Cedar Hall ward in May’s vote but was defeated by Tory candidate Liz Wass.
His wife, Lucy Parkin, stood in the Winter Gardens ward but lost out on a seat to Allan Taylor, from the Canvey Independent Party.
An Essex Police statement confirmed: “The charges relate to nomination papers for prospective UKIP council candidates.”