UKIP candidate admits forging nomination signatures at Bassetlaw elections

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A UKIP candidate who stood for election to Bassetlaw District Council has admitted forging signatures on his nomination papers.

Michael Lowe, aged 34, of Netherton Road, Worksop, admitted 10 separate charges of falsifying the signatures of electors on his nomination form for the East Retford South ward last year.

Candidates must get signatures from 10 registered electors from the ward for which they are standing in order to stand.

John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, said Lowe’s nomination form for the May 2015 council elections included the signatures of three Labour Party supporters.

The forging of the signatures happened between May 5 and 7, 2015.

Lowe stood in the election where he received 488 votes, behind Labour’s Carolyn Troop with 1,194 and Helen Richards with 1,186, who were both elected, and Tory candidate Bryn Jones, who received 689 votes.

The Electoral Commission – which has no powers to investigate allegations of electoral fraud – said it is the “responsibility” of the candidate to ensure the information provided in their nomination form, including any subscribers, is true and the returning officer must accept the nomination form at “face value”.

A commission spokesman said: “Although proven cases of serious electoral fraud are rare, the commission takes this issue extremely seriously and we welcome the action taken by the police and the court in this case.”

A UKIP spokesman said: “Lowe is no longer a member of UKIP. UKIP does not condone his actions.”

Lowe was sentenced at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing.

He was given a 12-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months.

He must also carry out 180 hours of unpaid work within the next 12 months and pay £85 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

He was also disqualified from holding public or electoral office for five years.

The Guardian was unable to contact Lowe and Bassetlaw council declined to comment.