A COUNCILLOR who was dropped by his party for endorsing a BNP election candidate has now been thrown off his council for failing to attend meetings.

Steve Jones was first elected to Darlington Borough Council in 2003 and later became leader of the authority’s Liberal Democrat group.

But he was ousted by his colleagues in April last year on the orders of the party’s then leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, when he signed nomination papers for a rival local election candidate running for the BNP.

He continued to serve as an Independent councillor until last night, when he was thrown off the council for failing to attend any meetings in the past six months.

A by-election will now be held to find a new member for the North Road ward.

Reports prepared for the meeting, by the authority’s chief executive Ada Burns, state: “The last meeting attended by Councillor Jones was the planning applications committee on April 2, 2008.

“The council has not approved a reason for Coun Jones’ non-attendance prior to the expiry of his six months absence from meetings.

“There has been no contact from Coun Jones.

“In accordance with legislative requirements, the council must declare a casual vacancy if a member fails to attend meetings.”

Mr Jones incurred the wrath of the Lib Dem party leadership when the 2007 election controversy hit the national headlines.

He later said that he did not know that Daniel Andrew Brown was standing for the BNP when he signed the nomination form.

He had already resigned as the Lib Dem group leader when he was suspended by his party.

After his suspension last year, he said: “A friend had asked my wife if she would nominate somebody to stand. She wasn’t there, so I signed the form for him.

“I don’t know him and I didn’t notice he was standing for the BNP at the time. I should have checked it and I feel livid now because I do not support the BNP whatsoever.”

Mr Jones was not available for comment last night, and his contact page on the council’s website has been suspended.