One of the candidates standing in a council by-election next week is a convicted football hooligan, The Northern Echo has learned.
British National Party member Paul Thompson was convicted and jailed for six months for violent disorder between two sets of thugs. He also has a previous conviction for criminal damage after hurling stones through the shop window of a left-wing book store.
Mr Thompson is one of four candidates who is standing for the Darlington Borough Council by-election in the Cockerton West ward. The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Jenny Chapman, following her selection at the town’s new MP.
Mr Thompson stood in the 2003 and 2007 council elections, both times in Darlington’s Northgate ward. In 2003 he was last with 151 votes and again in 2007 with 126 votes. A Darlington Borough Council spokeswoman confirmed that Mr Thompson was allowed to stand.
People are barred from standing as a candidate in council elections if they have been sentenced to more than three months imprisonment within the previous five years. Mr Thompson was jailed for violent disorder in 1998. He was one of nine men involved in trouble between Darlington and Cardiff City supporters in May 1997.
His earlier conviction happened in 1994, when he was given a 12-month conditional discharge.
Ken Booth, regional organiser for British National Party, said the charges were irrelevant and Mr Thompson was entitled to stand for public office. He added: “It is a long time ago. You get over it and move on. He is not breaking any law by standing, but obviously someone wants to drag up the past. Is this a topical issue? I don’t think so. Everyone deserves a second chance.”
Mr Thompson has also previously been criticised by the family of a man murdered in a street attack in 2001 after he produced leaflets attacking the three-year sentence given to his killer. People intervened when he handed out the leaflets because they were of a racist nature.
Mr Booth called the accusations “fictitious and bogus”.
Also standing in the by-election are Jan Cossins, for the Labour Party, David Davies, for the Conservatives, and Brian Jefferson, for the Liberal Democrats.
Mrs Cossins is chairman of Cockerton East Community Partnership and a governor at Branksome School. Mr Davies is a former UKIP candidate and husband of Conservative councillor Kate Davies. Mr Jefferson is chairman of Growing Older Living in Darlington.
The election takes place on Thursday. Labour will maintain its overall control of the council whatever the result of the election. It now has 28 councillors, the Conservative party 18 and Liberal Democrats six.