Update: UKIP councillor to resign after shoplifting in Thetford
PUBLISHED: 17:39 12 June 2013 | UPDATED: 11:34 13 June 2013
© Archant Norfolk 2013
A UKIP councillor who shoplifted from Poundstretcher has said he will resign stating the pressure on him was too great.
The resignation of Peter Georgiou, who took Thetford West for UKIP by one vote from Labour, will spark a by-election in Norfolk’s closest-fought division.
It also marks the end of two weeks of speculation surrounding Mr Georgiou’s future after he admitted he was banned from Thetford’s Poundstretcher store in Minstergate for shoplifting last year.
Police dealt with the incident through a “community resolution” in which Mr Georgiou agreed to pay for the goods and was banned.
He put his behaviour down to the result of medication he was taking for depression.
Revealing that he would resign, he told the EDP that he was shocked by the “mudslinging” against him after his past was made public.
He said: “I am disappointed because we all know there is mudslinging that goes on. I just thought [the reaction] was a little bit over the top. If somebody has made a mistake in their past, the idea is to give them a chance.”
He added: “I really thought I could’ve made a difference. I thought I could turn my own life around and help people.
“People were saying ‘don’t resign’, but the pressure got too much.”
Mr Georgiou said the pressure to resign did not come from his own party and he said he would still support UKIP, but his involvement in politics would only go as far as delivering leaflets.
He said he had told UKIP there was something in his past which he was not proud about when he was selected as a candidate, but did not give them the details.
A statement from Toby Coke, leader of the Norfolk County Council UKIP group, said: “Peter has been persistently harassed over matters relating to his past that in no way prevent him from carrying out his duties as a county councillor.
“However, the constant attention from political opponents and the media has had a very detrimental effect on his morale and placed great strain on his family.”
The family has also put their house on Fir Road in Thetford up for sale, although Mr Georgiou denied that was anything to do with election controversy.
The by-election will be an early test for the alliance at county hall between Labour, UKIP, Lib Dems and the Green Party, with Labour set to compete with UKIP to take the division back.