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Rochester and Strood Ukip MP Mark Reckless set to face Tories at the County Court in Chatham

By Lynn Cox

Mark Reckless could soon be facing his former Tory colleagues in the courtroom.

A date has been set for a hearing in the Conservatives' attempt to claw back thousands of pounds the party spent on promoting him ahead of May’s general election.

The Rochester and Strood Constituency Association took legal action last year after Mr Reckless defected to Ukip.

MP Mark Reckless

MP Mark Reckless

It lodged a claim against the MP, saying he signed off expenditure for campaign literature up to two days before shifting to the party on September 27.

The Tories said at the time they had no alternative but to throw away the campaign leaflets which were promoting him.

A claim form was lodged at the small claims court at the County Court in Chatham, in December which also named Mr Reckless’s agent and Medway councillor Chris Irvine, who also left the party.

After lodging the papers, Conservative members said unless the bill – which comes to more than £3,000 – was settled, the party would take the matter to court.

The leaked papers named Mr Reckless and Cllr Irvine as the defendants and stated the association was trying to claim £3,012, back from the pair as well as £185 court costs.

Cllr Chris Irvine

Cllr Chris Irvine

The particulars of the claim state: “Mr Reckless was a Conservative MP for the Rochester and Strood Constituency until his defection to Ukip on 27 September 2014.

“His defection to UKIP resulted in unusable 2015 general election campaign literature the Rochester and Strood Constituency Conservative Association had no choice but to later discard.

“This consequently incurred an unnecessary expense. Mr Christopher Irvine was Mr Reckless’s agent at the time.”

A court date has now been set for Thursday, March 12, at noon at the court in the High Street.

Cllr Andrew Mackness, chairman of the Rochester and Strood Conservative Association, previously said: “Mark Reckless and Chris Irvine, his agent, were approving expenditure up to two days before defection, which in the least was deceitful and misleading and led to costs the Conservative Association believe should be repaid to them.”

Cllr Andrew Mackness

Cllr Andrew Mackness

Mr Reckless hit back by saying the move was just sour grapes from the Conservatives.

He added: "This is a sour grapes legal action.

"That may be the Conservatives' priority but I am concentrating on serving my constituents."

Cllr Irvine said: “This petulant move only serves to vindicate my personal decision to walk away from the Conservative Party, which is now publicly displaying its nasty, bullying nature for all to see.”

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