Essex

UKIP's Neil Hamilton withdraws from Basildon selection process

Neil and Christine Hamilton
Image caption Neil Hamilton, pictured here with his wife Christine, withdrew from UKIP's selection process in Essex

Former Tory MP Neil Hamilton has withdrawn from the selection process to become a prospective parliamentary candidate for UKIP in Essex.

His name was on a list of five candidates in the running to become the party's candidate for the seat of South Basildon and East Thurrock.

But before hustings began at a meeting in Pitsea, Mr Hamilton announced he was withdrawing from the process.

He said he supported another candidate, Kerry Smith, who was later selected.

Mr Smith had been deselected as the party's prospective parliamentary candidate for the same seat in October.

"He should never have been deselected in the first place, in my opinion, and he will make an excellent member of Parliament for Basildon," said Mr Hamilton.

Image copyright Robby West
Image caption Neil Hamilton endorsed Kerry Smith, who was chosen as UKIP's candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock

"I would not have put my hat into the ring if I'd known that Kerry was going to be a candidate.

"I didn't know until I got here that his name was included in the ballot paper."

Channel 4 reported seeing a letter from UKIP's finance committee querying expenses claims made by Mr Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton, UKIP's deputy chairman, said his decision to withdraw from the Basildon selection process was nothing to do with expenses, but that it was a UKIP "dirty trick" to stitch him up.

Last month he withdrew from the process to become the party's UKIP's parliamentary candidate for the Boston and Skegness constituency.

Mr Hamilton would not say if he was planning on trying to run in another seat.

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