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  1. Sarah Saunders @SSaundersITV

UKIP leader joins the campaign trail after MP defects

As Conservatives gathered in Birmingham today for the start of the party's conference - the leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, took the opportunity to introduce constituents in Rochester to his new recruit. Mark Reckless joined him as they met potential voters for the by-election he triggered with his resignation as a Tory MP for the area yesterday.

Sarah Saunders spoke to former Conservative MP Mark Reckless, UKIP leader Nigel Farage and Labour candidate for the area, Naushabah Khan.

Mark Reckless joins UKIP Leader in Rochester

Mark Reckless welcomed to UKIP by party leader, Nigel Farage Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

The former Conservative MP for Rochester and Strood has been in the constituency today with UKIP Leader Nigel Farage.

He appeared on stage at UKIPs conference yesterday to announce he had resigned and joined the party - in doing so he triggered a by-election.

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Rochester & Strood Conservative's shocked by MP's defection to UKIP

Rochester and Strood by-election not straightforward

The Rochester and Strood by-election won't be as straightforward for UKIP as Clacton seems to be.

As Mark Reckless told the UKIP conference today, "Rochester is not Clacton".

It certainly didn't figure high up on UKIP's list of target seats - until about 3 o'clock this afternoon. And Mr Reckless probably doesn't have the same personal followng as Douglas Carswell.

But, in the Medway Council area as a whole, UKIP won the European elections, getting almost twice as many votes as the Tories. And voters there consistently say immigration is their top concern.

We don't know the date of the by-election yet, but it will come after the two taking place on October 9th. So UKIP will be able to put all their resources into Rochester and Strood.

If Mr Reckless does manage to overturn his own 10,000 majority, it will be another one of those political earthquakes Nigel Farage likes to talk about. And perhaps the most significant so far.

Phil Hornby ITV Political Correspondent

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Mark Reckless MP: I will resign my seat and trigger a by-election

Mr Reckless announced that he will quit as an MP so he can trigger a by-election and fight the Kent seat as a Ukip candidate.

He told activists he answered to his constituents and wanted to seek their permission to change allegiance. "They are the boss and if I am to seek to represent them under different colours, I hope in a party that is closer to their values, then I shall ask their permission," he said.

"So I will resign my seat in Parliament, trigger a by-election and, your national executive allowing, stand for Ukip."

Reckless: 'Impossible to keep promises' as a Tory

Conservative backbencher Mark Reckless said he is defecting to Ukip because he "found that it is impossible" to keep promises he gave to his voters as a Conservative.

"I remember the promises I made to my constituents in Rochester and Strood at the last election, and I intend to keep them," Mr Reckless said.

"I found that it's impossible to keep these promises as Conservative and that is why I am joining Ukip," he said.

The Rochester and Strood MP said he had not taken the decision lightly but claimed the Conservative leadership was "part of the problem that is holding our country back".

Appeal for witnesses following sexual assault

Police are appealing for information following a sexual assault in Rochester in the early hours of Saturday morning.

An 18-year-old woman was sexually assaulted near to the junction of Watts Avenue, Maidstone Road, Rochester. The incident occurred between 1.30 and 2.15am.

It is reported that the woman was walking to a friend’s house when she realised she was being followed by a man with a mountain bike. He spoke to her before it is alleged he pushed her down and sexually assaulted her.

The male is described as being white with a shaved/ bald head wearing a dark coloured hooded top with a white t-shirt underneath. He was also wearing a pair of shorts and had a silver mountain bike.

Officers are investigating and have reviewed CCTV which shows a man sitting on a bench in the Blue Boar Lane area prior to the assault. A woman is seen riding around on a silver mountain bike before putting the bike down by him, she then leaves the area.

It is thought that another male recorded the woman riding round on the bike on his mobile phone. Officers are particularly keen to hear from anyone who may have seen a man with a silver mountain bike in the Rochester area before the assault or the couple seen using/ photographing the bike.

Can you help?

Witnesses are asked to contact Kent Police on 01634 792432 quoting reference XY/33416/14.

Alternatively contact Kent CrimeStoppers on 0800 555111.

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