NIGEL Farage has backed a Ukip parliamentary candidate after it emerged he faces questioning over claims he tried to woo voters by handing out sausage rolls at a party event.
The Ukip leader said the claims against Kim Rose, who is standing in Southampton Itchen in Hampshire, were “utter nonsense”.
“There seems all sorts of cases in politics of people behaving badly and doing things wrong... Having a few sausage rolls I don’t really think counts as one of those”Nigel Farage
Mr Rose has said he invited snooker legend Jimmy White to play pool with local children at a local community centre on February 21 where refreshments were laid on.
But Hampshire Constabulary has since received a report of “treating” by the prospective parliamentary candidate, and he said he has been told to report to police over the claims.
Mr Rose told the BBC: “It was a fantastic day. We laid on teas, coffees, sandwiches and some sausage rolls. Now I’ve been reported for allegations of treating.
“Maybe it’s a bit naive but all the intentions were good. It’s absolutely ridiculous. I’m sure people aren’t going to change their mind for a sausage roll.”
Mr Rose had the support of Mr Farage who spoke today about the case after unveiling a poster stating Ukip would issue a compulsory purchase order for the defunct Manston Airport in Kent.
Mr Farage said: “I think it’s utter nonsense. There seems all sorts of cases in politics of people behaving badly and doing things wrong, abusing their positions.
“Having a few sausage rolls I don’t really think counts as one of those.”
Electoral Commission rules state that a person is “guilty of treating if either before, during or after an election they directly or indirectly give or provide any food, drink, entertainment or provision to corruptly influence any voter to vote or refrain from voting”.
Hampshire Constabulary said in a statement: “We have a received an allegation of ‘treating’ by a prospective parliamentary candidate, contrary to the Representation of the People Act 1983. We are looking into the complaint. No arrests have been made.”
Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, Mr Farage said the issue of Manston was a “crucial” local issue in the South Thanet constituency he hopes to win next month.
He said it was “bizarre” that with talk about expanding airports at Gatwick and Heathrow, which would take years to bring about, Manston could be operating in weeks.
The poster unveiling came as the latest polls show that the Liberal Democrats have gained three points to draw level with Ukip for the first time in more than 18 months.
Mr Farage said before the survey emerged that he was pleased with Ukip’s standing, saying support this week had “rallied” and there had been “a very clear firming of the polls” since last week’s debates.
But the Lib Dems - who have consistently surrendered their third-party status in polls for a long period - now join Ukip on 12 per cent.
ComRes research for ITV and the Daily Mail suggested the race was still too tight to call with the Tories on 34 per cent and Labour on 33 per cent.
But that compared with a four-point deficit for Ed Miliband’s Opposition at the start of the campaign.
Mr Farage said: “According to another overnight poll we were up to 18/19 per cent.
“Even looking at the Ukip vote share, there is a 7 per cent margin in the overnight polls. I’m not sure we can believe any of it.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS