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UKIP leader probed over by-election rental home

By Matthew Cooper

Ukip leader Paul Nuttall has spent the night at a house in Stoke-on-Trent that Labour claims he rented out to mislead by-election voters about his home address.

Political website Guido Fawkes reported that Mr Nuttall "spent the night on a mattress on the floor" at the end-of-terrace property, which was given as his home on nomination papers for the by-election on February 23.

The party leader stayed at the property hours after appearing on Channel 4 News amid accusations he may have breached electoral law by giving his home address as somewhere he had yet to live.

Staffordshire Police said on Wednesday that "considerable media interest" in an allegation relating to a candidate standing for the Stoke-on-Trent Central seat had prompted officers to launch an investigation.

Confirming that Mr Nuttall had stayed overnight at the house, which he is using as a base while campaigning, a spokesman for UKIP said: "We are entirely sanguine that all law has been complied with.

"I am told that police are investigating. They have not spoken to us and if and when they do, we will be perfectly happy to answer their questions."

Labour claimed Mr Nuttall's use of an apparently empty house as his address raised serious questions about his fitness for public office.

Speaking to Channel 4 News on Wednesday, Mr Nuttall said of the property: "It's not empty. People are in it now. I'll be in there and I'll be there for the rest of the campaign.

"It's not a false declaration at all. People are in the process of moving us in."

The UKIP party leader later tweeted: "A candidate being attacked for being prepared to move to his constituency must be a first".

Mr Nuttall became UKIP leader last November following a period of uncertainty after Nigel Farage's resignation.

He was elected as an MEP for North West England in the 2009 European Parliament election, a position he retained in the 2014 poll.

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