UKIP gains first Leicestershire County Council seats as ex-Tories join up
The sacked former deputy leader of Leicestershire County Council has defected from the Conservatives and joined the UK Independence Party.
Councillor David Sprason yesterday became the county's first UKIP councillor and has announced he intends to defend his Markfield, Desford and Thornton seat in May's election.
He was swiftly followed into the UKIP fold by Councillor Rob Fraser, who quit the Conservatives last year.
Coun Sprason was sacked by the party in January for giving a frank interview to the Leicester Mercury about his use of a council computer to watch a pornographic film in 2007.
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He told the Mercury yesterday: "I have always tried to be open and honest and grown up about things. The Tories at County Hall didn't like that and they got rid of me. It was a total stitch-up.
"Nick Rushton (the county council leader) told me my political career was finished."
Coun Sprason said he felt the Tories had betrayed their traditional values.
In his resignation letter he said: "With national Conservative policy dictated by the Liberal Democrats, I can't help but feel that we are failing those who work hard and do the right thing.
"In areas such as planning, the environment, wind farms, gay marriage, marriage tax breaks, inheritance tax, HS2, the EU con and the dithering lack of commitment to social care, the Conservative Party is getting it wrong."
Coun Sprason – whose wife Sue remains a Tory borough councillor – and Coun Fraser were yesterday welcomed into their new party by leader Nigel Farage and East Midlands MEP Roger Helmer, another former Tory who joined UKIP.
Tory council leader Nick Rushton described UKIP's new recruits at County Hall as a "motley crew".
He said: "David has been a leading light in the Conservative Party in Leicestershire for some 12 years, but then he gets himself in trouble and he drops his principles and he jumps in bed with Roger Helmer.
"His decision to give an interview to the Leicester Mercury with details of his and his wife's personal habits was the reason we got rid of him.
"It wasn't him being honest, it was him being stupid and showing very poor judgement.
"His comments in the Mercury were syndicated globally in the press and caused huge embarrassment to the party and the council.
"If he'd kept his mouth shut he wouldn't have found himself in any bother.
"Now he's an opposition councillor, at least until May, and we'll select someone to stand against him and keep the seat in Conservative hands after the election.
"As for Rob, he left us when he was deselected and he approached the Liberal Democrats and Labour before ending up with UKIP."
Mr Helmer, however, said: "David was treated very badly by his colleagues and it just took a nudge to get him to join us. We are delighted to welcome him."
Coun Fraser, a former Independent who represents Groby and Ratby, denied that he had approached any other parties but said we was glad to have joined UKIP.
County Hall Liberal Democrat leader Simon Galton said: "We've been watching what has happened to the Tories from the sidelines with amazement. It all started with (former leader) David Parsons going in the summer because, whatever his faults, he kept them unified. Now it's yet another episode of the Tories falling out with each other."