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Leading role for Reckless in the Welsh elections

Mark Reckless to take leading role in Welsh Assembly Credit: ITV News Meridian

A former Rochester and Strood MP who defected from the Conservatives to UKIP is to take a leading role in the Welsh elections.

Mark Reckless will write UKIP's manifesto for next year's election in Wales. He says he'll now spend part of his time in Wales working with members. UKIP is on course to win a handful of seats in the Cardiff Assembly in the election next May.

Can you help detectives with information on M25 collision?

Police are appealing for information following a serious road traffic collision on the M25 between junctions 4 and 5. The incident was reported to police at 12.53pm today.

A female motorcyclist has sustained serious injuries. Both the clockwise and anti-clockwise were closed to allow the air ambulance to land. The clockwise carriageway was reopened at 2pm. The anti-clockwise carriageway is currently down to one lane. Motorists are advised to avoid the area.

Police are also keen to remind people to stay in their vehicles if they are stuck in stationary traffic. This follows reports of people playing football in the carriageway and a report of two teenagers being stranded on the wrong side of the M25 after the clockwise carriageway was reopened. The pair had reportedly walked across the motorway whilst the road was closed, but then were unable to get back when the road was reopened. A patrol helped them return to their vehicle safely.

Can you help?

Witnesses to the collision are asked to contact Kent’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit on 01622 798538

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Woman jailed for stealing £250k from employer

A former finance officer has been jailed after a jury found her guilty of siphoning nearly £250,000 from a car mechanics in Strood.

Kerry Anne Stone had worked for company for 17 years

Kerry Anne Stone, 32, denied fraud by abuse of position while employed as purchase ledger assistant at Mr Clutch in Priory Road between 1 January 2009 and 19 July 2013.

Stone, of Chequers Court in Strood, was found guilty of stealing £222,799.71 from two accounts and was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court to four years in prison.

Investigation Officers from Kent Police were contacted on 19 July 2013 after it was suspected Stone, who had been working for the company for 17 years, had made two fraudulent payments to herself of £1,770.72 from the company account.

After coming clean to a colleague, a meeting was called and Stone agreed to pay the full amount back, which she did by 17 July.

Upon further inspection, other transactions were looked at and it was established at least £10,569.99 had been taken.

At a disciplinary meeting on 25 July, she admitted stealing the money and had created dummy invoices and posted payment to her own account.

Stone admitted to stealing from the company for the past 18 months and was subsequently dismissed.

A full audit was later commissioned and it was found Stone had stolen money from two accounts totalling nearly £250,000.

Tories choose Kelly Tolhurst as by-election candidate

Kelly Tolhurst has been announced as the Tory candidate for the by-election in Rochester and Strood Credit: ITV Meridian

The Conservative candidate for the upcoming by-election in Rochester and Strood has been announced.

Medway councillor Kelly Tolhurst has been crowned the winner in the two-way vote with Anna Firth for nomination. She may face an uphill battle though, as a poll commissioned by UKIP today gave Nigel Farage's party a 13 point lead over the Conservatives.

The Conservatives are desperate to avoid another seat falling to Ukip in a by-election triggered by Tory defector Mark Reckless's decision to stand down and run as a Ukip candidate.

Following the announcement of the result, Ms Tolhurst said: "I'm honoured that thousands of local people have voted to select me as the Conservative candidate for the upcoming by-election. I will be a strong local voice, standing up for Rochester and Strood - my home."

The chairman of the Rochester and Strood Conservatives, Andrew Mackness, said: "Kelly will make a great MP for our great constituency, and I look forward to supporting her in the coming weeks to ensure a Conservative win and a bright future for this area."

UKIP plan their next campaign - in Kent

"Next - Rochester". UKIP's aim couldn't be more direct. Last night they celebrated an historic win on the Essex coast where they seized a Tory seat. Now all eyes are on north Kent where the sitting Conservative MP has become a UKIP candidate. Just as in Essex, in fact.

In his victory speech last night, UKIP's first MP promised their people's army would head to Rochester now. The stage is set for a battle royal. David Johns has spent the day in the constituency.

He spoke to UKIP's Mark Reckless, Andrew Mackness from the Conservative Association, Labour's Naushabah Khan and Geoff Juby of the Lib Dems.

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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".

Police appeal for witnesses after man killed in car crash

Kent Police is appealing for witnesses to a fatal road traffic collision in Strood.

At 4.15pm on Sunday 22 December, a grey VW Polo was travelling along Cliffe Road, Strood but as it approached the junction with Goddington Road, the vehicle crossed road and struck the wall of a nearby property.

The male driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

No other vehicles are thought to have been involved in the incident but officers would like to hear from anyone who may information about the collision or anyone who may have seen the vehicle in the moments before the incident.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Serious Collision Investigation Unit witness appeal line on 01622 798538.

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