Derby election campaigner jailed for election fraud

Christopher Fernandez Derby election fraud Image copyright Derbyshire Police
Image caption Christopher Fernandez used a petition about a swimming pool to trick residents into nominating candidates

A political activist who duped people into signing local election nomination papers has been jailed for 15 months.

Christopher Fernandez, 60, from Derby, was found guilty of 12 electoral fraud offences in December, having earlier pleaded guilty to two similar counts.

Derby Crown Court heard residents thought they were signing a petition about the closure of a swimming pool.

Their signatures were used to nominate Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates for the elections.

Image caption Eight candidates stood for the TUSC in the 2016 elections for positions on Derby City Council

Jurors heard Fernandez, of Wingfield Drive, Chaddesden, was supposed to collect 10 signatures from registered voters for each ward where the party was standing for Derby City Council in 2016.

However, many of the residents who signed his forms believed they had backed a petition about the closure of Moorways swimming pool.

His trial heard suspicions were first raised when two people who had nominated TUSC candidates were found to have also backed candidates from the Liberal Democrats and UKIP.

Fernandez admitted two counts of electoral fraud, denied 14 counts and was found not guilty of two other offences.

Det Con Richard Foster, from Derbyshire Police, said Fernandez "manipulated" and "deceived" residents and then put them through the "ordeal" of appearing in court.

Janie Berry, returning officer and electoral registration officer at Derby City Council, said: "The democratic process depends on the good faith of those who engage in it and today's sentencing reflects the seriousness of Mr Fernandez's breach of that good faith."

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