UKIP’s parliamentary candidate for South Holland David Parsons has explained the “regrettable” expenses incident that saw him quit as Tory leader in Leicestershire in 2012.
Mr Parsons, who was adopted by UKIP on Saturday, explained: “I think the problem was a couple of years ago, when I was involved in this, I had a heck of a lot of jobs and there were a lot of calls on my time.
“I was leader of Leicestershire County Council, I was the member for this region for the committee of the regions of the EU and I was deputy chairman of the LGA (Local Government Association).
“I had a lot on and cash which should have been transferred from my account more quickly wasn’t (transferred) – and, you know, I said sorry about that and it was regrettable.”
Mr Parsons said all of the cash has been repaid, adding: “Somebody like me has to take responsibility and I do so in all humility. I think people may understand that.”
The parliamentary seat was fought in 2010 by Richard Fairman, now a UKIP county councillor, who says Mr Parsons has his full support.
Coun Fairman said: “When I stood, there was no danger of winning – now that we have got a proper chance of winning, we have got a proper, professional candidate. I shall give him every bit of support.”
Paul Foyster, chairman of UKIP in South Holland and The Deepings, says this constituency is the “tenth demographically most favourable seat for UKIP in the country”.
That calculation is based on population profile, taking into account things like the existing political parties and their supporters, incomes, occupations and housing.
Mr Foyster said: “John (Hayes) has got a huge majority but it could be quite a close fight.”
He said May will be exciting because UKIP is putting together a team for the district council and says the number of candidates so far is in “double figures”.
South Holland District Council’s Conservative leader Gary Porter said he was surprised by UKIP’s choice of parliamentary candidate – simply “on the basis that he’s not local” – but welcomed news that UKIP candidates are stepping forward to contest district council seats.
Coun Porter said he would like to see all 37 seats contested by representatives from each political party so residents get a proper choice when they vote.
MP John Hayes hasn’t commented on Mr Parsons’ selection, but says of the contest ahead: “People know that I live in the heart of the place I represent and I work hard for all of our communities and I am confident they will judge me accordingly.”
Mr Parsons, who lives in Kirby Muxloe, Leicestershire, says: “If elected I will live in South Holland.” He attended university in Salford and St John’s College, Oxford, where he was president of the students’ union, and became a science teacher. He now works as a property and land developer. He was awarded the CBE for services to regional and local government in 2009.