The election agent for a Nonsuch by-election candidate is a convicted criminal who sent death threats to a drugs company involved in animal testing.

Charlotte Lewis was jailed for six months in 2001 for her ongoing harassment of staff at the Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) centre in Cambridgeshire.

Now Miss Lewis, of Thornton Heath, is backing British National Party (BNP) candidate Peter North in the by-election for a Sutton Council seat on July 4 after the death of Councillor Chris Dunlop.

The 36-year-old was also questioned in 2006 over possible election fraud in Sutton but was released without charge.

Recent media reports have also revealed BNP members called for her to receive an Iron Cross – an emblem of the German army during World War Two – for her work for the party.

Miss Lewis told the Sutton Guardian this week her background should not affect Mr North’s campaign.

She said: “The party hierarchy has not said to me I’m not allowed to be an election agent.

“I know I took it [harassing animal testing staff] too far. That was foolish. But that is a spent conviction.”

She said the incident in 2006 was about “naivety more than dishonesty”.

Mr North, who turned from the Conservative party, said he backed his agent and that it was “her business”.

He said: “I’m not going to comment about her history.”

Speaking about the calls for her to receive the Iron Cross he said: “There are idiots in every party.”

Standing against Mr North is Conservative Georg Braun – originally from Germany – Liberal Democrat Gerry Jerome – originally from Mauritius and Labour’s Marcus Papadopoulos who is half-Greek and a quarter German.

In his election leaflet Mr North says: “Do you share my view that it’s not right for ‘johnny-come-latelies’ to arrive uninvited in our country...”

Mr North said he was not racist, that his beliefs were not based on colour and that he had “slept in the same sleeping bag as a black native in the army”.

But he said he believed in a homogeneous society “not a diverse society, because I don’t believe it causes friction”.

Candidate Mr Jerome, 55, said: “I would rather not have him standing.

"I believe they [the BNP] are a racist party and they are trying to persuade people they are not by exploiting the issue of immigration.”

Runners and riders

Gerry Jerome, 55, a director of an IT consultancy company was formerly a councillor in Sutton West for eight years.

The father-of-three said he was “very much a supporter of a fair deal for schoolchildren”.

He said: “I have been here for a long time and want to see the school places that we have here distributed fairly.

“I’m also concerned that Mayor [Boris] Johnson keeps his promise on reducing traffic and congestion by improving public transport.”

Marcus Papadopoulos, 30, who grew up in Cheam, said he wanted to see more police officers and community officers on the streets to tackle antisocial behaviour.

The now freelance press officer for the Church of England and the League Against Cruel Sports, said he also wanted to see a reduction in traffic and a remedy to the eyesore of Victoria House.

Georg Braun, 41, a businessman, said he wanted to see Cheam Baths rebuilt with provision kept on the site.

The father-of-four said he also wanted to improve Victoria House and traffic congestion in the area.

He said he also wanted to give greater support to the provision of activities for young people in the ward.

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