A FORMER criminal blamed for throwing Ukip into turmoil is eyeing up a seat on Portsmouth City Council.
Paul Lovegrove, who has a criminal record with convictions for violent crimes, hopes to become a Fratton councillor representing the party at the local elections on May 7.
Don Jerrard, Paul Godier and Bob Ingram quit Ukip because of the controversy surrounding Mr Lovegrove – who has kept the backing of party officials including leader Nigel Farage.
Mr Lovegrove’s last prison sentence was in 2005 and he says he has since turned his life around.
Cllr Steve Hastings, deputy leader of Ukip’s Portsmouth group, said: ‘Mr Lovegrove’s criminal past is just that, it’s in the past. It was a period of time where he was much troubled.
‘He is a completely different person now.’
He added: ‘He would bring a lot to the council due to his experience. Within the council, we do have a lot of troubled people to deal with.’
Mr Lovegrove, Ukip’s Portsmouth South committee chairman, went for a seat in Milton last year, but came second to Lib Dem Ben Dowling by 209 votes.
Addressing his intentions to stand again, Mr Lovegrove said: ‘It’s not about me, it’s about representing the will of the people, doing a good, honest job, and making our city a better place to live in.’
Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock is also running for the seat in Fratton which is being left vacant by independent councillor Eleanor Scott.
Cllr Scott, a former Lib Dem, has chosen not to defend her position. She quit the Lib Dems in light of the behaviour of members and revelations about Mr Hancock’s private life.
Cllr Scott said: ‘I have decided not to stand this year.
‘I am going to spend a year writing a book about my time on the city council.’