UKIP Leadership Hopeful Steven Woolfe 'Failed To Declare' Drunk-Driving Conviction

Steve Woolfe
U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) migration spokesman Steven Woolfe in London, March 4, 2015. The leadership contender is in a serious condition in hospital after an 'altercation' at a party meeting. LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Steven Woolfe, previously the favorite to succeed Nigel Farage as leader of the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP), failed to declare a criminal conviction before a previous election, according to reports.

Woolfe, who most recently served as an immigration spokesman for the party and sits in the European Parliament as an MEP, stood as a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for UKIP in 2012.

He told The Huffington Post that when he stood for the post he "forgot about" a £350 ($460) fine he earned in 2002 that he incurred after being caught drunk in charge of a scooter.

Rules set by the U.K.'s Electoral Commission state that nobody can stand for elections as a PCC if they have ever been convicted of an imprisonable offence, regardless of whether the sentence they were handed down actually involved prison.

The rules also explain: "It is a criminal offence to make a false statement on your nomination papers as to your qualification for being elected."

Woolfe told The Huffington Post: "I made a foolish mistake 14 years ago which I regret. As the years went on I forgot about the conviction as I got on with my life.

"The conviction was a spent conviction in November 2012 and not in my mind when I stood for Police and Crime Commissioner in Greater Manchester. It was also a spent conviction when I stood for the European Elections in 2014 and General Election in 2015."

Woolfe, a competent media performer and former barrister, had led the betting markets as the favorite to take the party leadership in a contest triggered by Farage's resignation in July.

But Mike Smithson, editor of and an elections analyst, tweeted that following the revelation Woolfe had been overtaken by his rival Diane James, a fellow MEP.

Diane James now favourite to be Farage's successor at UKIP following latest revelation about Steveb Woolfe

— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) August 1, 2016