ONE of East Lancashire’s first UKIP councillors has denied suggestions he ‘defected’ within an hour of ousting his daughter from her council seat.
Former mayor and county councillor Malcolm Pritchard was elected in Miln-shaw on Friday, just days after reporting daughter Clare for alleged electoral fraud, and a year after he disowned her for taking his seat on the county council.
But, after an interview with a local radio station, during which Coun Prit-chard said he was free to act independently within UKIP because there are no party whips, rumour spread that he had jumped ship.
A whip is an official who works to maintain party discipline, and to ensure party members vote for party policy.
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said on Twitter: “First UKIP defector? Coun Malcolm Pritchard just announced on BBC Radio Lancs he has res-igned and gone independ-ent after 50 minutes.”
Mr Jones’ message was retweeted almost 950 times on the micro-blogging site, and led to calls for Coun Pritchard to stand down, and for a by-election to be triggered.
But Coun Pritchard, who said he was unhappy to have won the election after beating Clare by 112 votes, said the rumours were not true.
“I’m not standing indep-endently, I’m UKIP, UKIP, UKIP,” he said.
“I am 100per cent behind UKIP.
“The party’s Hyndburn chairman Paul Thompson and I will do our best for UKIP in Hyndburn, but we will also do the best for people in Milnshaw and (Mr Thompson’s ward) St Oswald’s.”
BBC Lancashire later posted online a segment of its interview with Coun Pritchard, during which he said: “I will look at ind-ependent policy because there is no whip in UKIP, we are all independents, and all I want to do is work for the good of Milnshaw.
“I will do what I want to do in Milnshaw. I’ve alw-ays put people before pol-itics.
“People want to see a good town and good area. That’s what I did before, and that’s what I’ll do again.”