Ukip ‘shambles’ as three members quit over Hampshire branch organiser’s violent criminal past

Paul Lovegrove has served time for two criminal convictions, but Ukip claim he has put his past behind him and condemned ‘witch-hunt’

Paul Lovegrove, 43, recently elected as chairman of Portsmouth South Ukip and Hampshire, has served two criminal sentences: one for wounding with intent in 1996 and another for actual bodily harm in 2000.

Don Jerrard, who had intended to stand as a parliamentary candidate for Fareham, has stood down, claiming that “no decent person would have anything to do with” Mr Lovegrove and that the party was a “shambles”.

Mr Jerrard, a former business lawyer who joined Ukip in 2013, told the Portsmouth News: “‘I reported my concerns to some senior people in Ukip who told me to “shut up”.”

Former Portsmouth City Councillor Paul Godier and ex-Fareham and Gosport chairman Bob Ingram have also left the party over its links to Mr Lovegrove.

Mr Ingram told the same paper he had quit the party over a matter of “principle”.

He claimed: “I don’t like to see people being bullied when they try and point out things that are wrong.”

Mr Godier added: “I’m a great believer that if you have done your time then you should be allowed a second chance.

“However, there are certain matters that cannot be overlooked,” he claimed.

A Ukip spokesperson told The Independent: “We are certainly standing by Mr Lovegrove, he has turned his life around.”

He continued: “We do not think we should condemn people for mistakes they have made in the past. I have been made increasingly angry by certain journalists, particularly those on the left who would normally defend individuals like him, but because he is Ukip have seen fit to attack him.

I am disgusted by the witch-hunt against someone who has lived the life he has done,” he added.

After coming out of prison, Mr Lovegrove allegedly got into another fight but absconded to Spain’s Costa Del Sol. On his return to the UK an allegation of sexual assault at knifepoint was brought to trial.

Although he was cleared of the sexual assault charge, he was sentenced to a year in prison for actual bodily harm, relating to the fight years previously.

Mr Lovegrove said: “I have learnt from my mistakes – they happened 10 and 20 years ago and if we have never made any mistakes to learn by then how can we lead?”

After leaving prison, Mr Lovegrove attended college and attempted to turn his life around. He started a small music festival in aid of Oxfam, in Southsea, through which he was gradually introduced to politics and said it was this experience that prompted him to take a more active role in how his city was run.

“I have had the pleasure and pain of life experiences which I hope to pass on through politics,” he told the Portsmouth News. “I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth, like most people.”

He added: “I have lived everything, much the same as everybody else – not living just surviving. It has not been pleasant. I am involved with politics but I am in this for the right reasons.”

Mr Jerrard did not respond to requests for comment.

From The Independent . Report by Rose Troup Buchanan. 30.01.15.

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