Tributes paid to political figure discovered dead

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A prominent political figure has died after falling from the top of Portchester Castle.

Michael Keith-Smith plunged to his death from the top of the medieval castle's keep shortly after it opened to the public.

The keep, which houses the main tourist displays, was closed for the rest of the day as police investigated the scene.

The 57-year-old, of Castle Road in Portchester, had been a controversial right-leaning political figure for many years – he was thrown out of the Conservative party in 2002.

And in 2005 he mounted a failed bid to win Portsmouth North for UKIP.

The Reverend Charlie Allen, the vicar of St Mary's Church, which is in the grounds of the castle, lives close to the Keith-Smiths and has been helping to comfort his widow Judy.

Mrs Allen said: 'It is an incredibly sad situation. Our prayers are with his family at this time.

'It's obviously a very traumatic time for all the family.'

His widow was too upset to speak to The News.

Mr Keith-Smith, who ran a rare book business from his home in recent years, is not believed to have had any children.

He died on Saturday morning, but police only confirmed the death yesterday afternoon when challenged by The News about reports circulating locally.

Police spokesman Neil Miller said: 'Detectives are investigating the non-suspicious death of a man found in the grounds of Portchester Castle at 10am on Saturday. The coroner has been informed.'

Residents living nearby told that Mr Keith-Smith had been suffering from mental health problems for about the past 18 months.

He was also involved in local civic group the Portchester Society, giving a talk on military music to the group earlier this year. Ken Howkins of the society said: 'It's a very tragic event.'

Debbie Holden spokeswoman for English Heritage, which runs the castle, said: 'English Heritage is saddened by the death at Portchester Castle on Saturday.

We would like to thank the police and emergency services and especially the visitors on that day for being so understanding about the early closure.'

The castle was open as usual on Sunday. An inquest has been opened and adjourned at Portsmouth's Coroner's Court.


Michael Keith-Smith, also known as Mike Smith, was a chartered surveyor by trade, but attained national notoriety as a right-wing politician.

He was an active member of the Monday Club, a pressure group on the right-wing of the Conservative Party.

After the party severed its ties with the group in 2001 because of concerns over its anti-immigration policies, Mr Keith-Smith became a co-founder of the Conservative Democratic Alliance.

In 2002, Iain Duncan Smith expelled him from the Tories for threatening to stand candidates against the Conservatives. But Mr Keith-Smith responded with a High Court writ forcing his reinstatement.

However, he soon switched allegiance to UKIP, running as its candidate in Portsmouth North in the 2005 general election. Tory candidate Penny Mordaunt later blamed his intervention for allowing Labour's Sarah McCarthy-Fry to win the seat.

A year later he became the first person to win a case for libel over the internet against a former schoolteacher who had called him a 'nonce' and a 'Nazi' on an online message board. He was awarded 10,000 plus 7,200 costs by the High Court.