A former UKIP and Conservative MP has been found guilty of tricking elderly constituents into signing electoral forms that backed local candidates.
A jury at Southwark Crown Court found Bob Spink guilty of four counts of permitting a false signature to be included on a nomination form for a UKIP councillor.
Spink, of Benfleet, Essex, failed to tell voters which party he was affiliated with or what the documents were.
The 69-year-old served as Tory MP for Castle Point for five years before defecting to UKIP in 2008.
People signed the forms without being told they were actually nominating various other UKIP candidates. Instead they were told it was a petition.
During a three-week trial prosecutor Tom Nicholson told the court: “We suggest it is plain that people do not always read what they are asked to sign when canvassed on their doorstep, particularly when someone they know has given them a spiel or patter – I don’t mean that in a derogatory way – about something quite different.
“This is particularly the case when the signatories may be of some age, and perhaps not the type to read such a form with scrupulous care – they maybe put an element of trust in him (Spink).”
The jury returned majority verdicts on all four counts faced by Spink.
None of the candidates included in Spink’s deception won a seat on the council, the court heard.
A UKIP election agent for the election, James Parkin, 39, was also found guilty of two counts of the same offence, and found not guilty of three. He had already admitted two counts.
Judge Ian Graham said: “These types of offences are taken very seriously.”
Zoe Martin, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said both had “deliberately misled voters in order to fraudulently secure signatures on nomination forms.
“As a former MP, residents could recognise Spink and were more willing to engage with him.
“But he ultimately betrayed their trust by using their signatures for his own purposes that they had not been made aware of and had not agreed to.”
Spink was the Conservative MP for Castle Point from 1992 to 1997, and again from 2001 to 2010.
Both men will be sentenced in January and were released on bail.