Workington deputy mayor David King a 'changed man'
The new deputy mayor of a Cumbrian town is a convicted conman who swindled thousands of pounds out of women he met through internet dating.
David King, of Workington, insisted he had paid back "every penny" which he said amounted to £48,000.
The 74-year-old admitted obtaining money by deception from two women between January and April 2004, and was jailed for four years in 2006.
He had previously been jailed for dishonesty in 2002.
Mr King said he was a "changed man".
Historical articles setting out his criminal past were shared online by political opponents following his appointment as deputy mayor and that of his wife, Janet, as mayor.
A former vice-chair of the Workington Constituency Labour Party, he broke away to form his own political group called the New Independents which enjoyed some success in the recent local elections.
Mr King falsely claimed at the time of the offences that he was the cousin of Lord Prescott (John Prescott) who was Deputy Prime Minister for 10 years.
Mr King met his victims thought the Dating Direct website and promised to marry them, according to court reports.
However, he then asked them for a total of more than £10,000 to go towards a book of religious poetry, The Revelations of St John the Divine.
'Epitome of charm'
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr King said he had behaved "abysmally" in the past.
At the time of his crimes he was living on a canal boat called Jolene in Leigh, Greater Manchester, and was sentenced at Preston Crown Court in 2006.
The court heard he was the "the epitome of charm", dating five women at the same time but with as many as 30 victims.
He was also jailed for 21 months in March 2002 after duping one woman out of £39,500 after claiming he was setting up a nursery business.
Mr King said: "Now, if I walk out on the road and I find a 50 pence piece I would pick it up and put it into the nearest charity box I could find."
Mrs King added: "We were getting on with our lives and we weren't deliberately holding anything back."
The couple, who were married in 2008, said they would step down from their respective political positions only if that was what the electorate wanted.
Following his election to the town council, Mr King was invited to take on the role of deputy mayor by fellow councillors when the first choice, Joe Holliday, declared he was not well enough.