UKIP figures urged Labour not to contest a Lancing election next month in return for stepping aside to help defeat the Tories last year, emails seen by the Herald have shown.
Labour’s Lee Cowen won the Mash Barn by-election in October, which UKIP did not contest despite previously holding the seat.
The emails, sent last month, showed how UKIP’s Geoff Patmore and Gloria Eveleigh asked Labour to repay the favour by not standing in Widewater, where Mr Patmore is seeking re-election to Adur District Council on May 3.
But Mr Cowen had denied offering to stand down – and said Labour had a candidate for the Lancing ward, although it was not targeting victory.
Mr Patmore wrote: “Perhaps you should split vote and all that. We did for you.”
Mr Patmore was backed by Ms Eveleigh, chairman of Lancing Parish Council. She said: “Yes, Lee. That would be the decent thing to do after we did not field a candidate in the bye (sic) election so that we would not split the vote in order to help you get elected.
“Please would you mind taking that thought back to your Labour group to suggest and discuss. It seems only fair.”
Mr Patmore added they ‘must join together’ to beat his Tory opponent, after Mr Cowen said he would ‘discuss it further’ with his party.
Speaking to the Herald, Mr Cowen said: “UKIP stepping aside in the October by-election was their business. There was no suggestion of a deal that we should reciprocate by standing down in May from Mash Barn or any other ward. Labour is putting up candidates in every ward like we did for the 2016 district council elections.”
The UKIP duo declined to comment about the ‘private’ emails. Mr Patmore added: “There was no suitable candidate at the by-election.”
Ms Eveleigh questioned the ethics ‘regarding the unauthorised use of private emails’.