Published: 16:00, 24 February 2017
A disgraced far-right activist is facing jail for cheating the election system by submitting fraudulent nomination forms.
English Democrats regional leader Steven Uncles dreamt up fictitious names such as Anna Cleves and Rachelle Stevens - referred to by a judge as “the lady from S Club 7”.
The 52-year-old local politician, who has since resigned but remained an official in high office, was convicted of seven charges of using a false instrument with intent and two of causing or permitting a false statement to be included in a nomination form.
He was acquitted of causing or permitting the false signature of an elector to be included in a nomination form.
A judge told Uncles, who denied all the charges and represented himself during the trial, he should put his affairs in order before sentence on March 13.
As a result of the convictions he is now disqualified from standing for office for five years. He could also be landed with a costs bill of £10,658.
Maidstone Crown Court heard Uncles, of Shears Close, Wilmington, either put up candidates for election who did not exist, or real people who had not signed the relevant nomination forms.
Prosecutor Mark Weekes told the jury of eight men and four women: “It is the prosecution case in respect of local county elections held in May 2013 this defendant dishonestly tampered with that system.
“During those council elections he submitted nomination forms for candidates that were fraudulent. As a consequence, the machinery of the election was materially effected.
“The result was that electors who chose their candidate on the basis they could trust the system wasted their vote.”
As chairman of the party for the south east, Uncles submitted the nomination forms for candidates to become English Democrat councillors.
The system was open to abuse, as it was all too easy to submit people who did not exist.
“That situation was exploited by Mr Uncles in those local elections,” said Mr Weekes.
“He submitted a total of seven nomination forms that were fraudulent. Two are entirely fictitious.”
Following conviction, Mr Weekes said although distress was caused to those who were falsely nominated, votes cast for the party did not impact significantly on the election result.
But said Judge Philip Statman: “It undermines the concept of an individual going to exercise the democratic process at the ballot box of his or her vote, because there are individuals here who are fictitious.”
The case faced several delays caused by Uncles applying for adjournments - one being because he ran for the post of Police Commissioner in May last year.
He failed to appear on the first day of his trial on February 8 and was arrested on a warrant outside the court when he turned up the next day. He has denied breaching his bail.
Mr Weekes said although £10,658 was sought in costs, the actual amount was more than £24,000.
The judge agreed to Uncles’ request to be legally represented at his own expense at the sentencing hearing.
Granting conditional bail, including a tagged curfew, Judge Statman warned: “My view is that clearly in offences of this gravity the custody threshold has been passed.
“I give you that warning so that you can put your personal affairs into good order.”