A CONTROVERSIAL Tory candidate has won a Hampshire by-election - despite making “outrageous” slurs on social media.

The Conservatives have retained a seat on New Forest District Council after former boxer Merv Langdale, 41, beat Liberal Democrat Craig Fletcher in the poll at Fawley.

But the Tories saw their majority slump from 883 to just 211 following the row over remarks made by Cllr Langdale in 2014.

Cllr Langdale polled 736 votes in the by-election, which was triggered by the death of Cllr Bob Wappet.

Following his victory he said: “We didn’t lower ourselves to the mud-slinging of the Liberal Democrats. Instead we ran a positive campaign that was about the community and gave a clear vision for Fawley, Blackfield, Langley and Calshot.”

Despite losing the Liberal Democrats said they were “celebrating” the outcome of the poll.

Cllr David Harrison, leader of the Lib Dem opposition group on the council, said: “The last time the seat was contested, the victorious Tory candidate won by a majority of 883 votes.

“This time around the Conservatives failed even to register that number of votes, polling just 736.

“Craig is the best candidate I’ve ever worked with. It was a huge, uphill task to overturn such a large majority in a four-week campaign, but what a result.

“A similar swing from Tory to Lib Dem in other wards would mean more than 20 Lib Dem councillors elected.”

Mr Fletcher said: “Not the result we had hoped for but a huge success in massively reducing the majority.”

Referring to next year’s local elections he added: “I’m not walking away and will continue to serve the people. Imagine what we can do with that time. This is only the beginning.”

As reported in the Daily Echo, Cllr Langdale was blasted by rivals a week before the by-election over comments he made on Facebook in 2014, including a derogatory statement about a gay man’s sexual preferences. Critics described his remarks as “outrageous”.

In a statement issued at the time the Fawley parish councillor said he was “no saint”.

But he added: “I am a decent man who will put my heart and soul into serving the people I have grown up with, irrespective of ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or gender. We may all have things in our past that we might regret, but more importantly we all have a future.”


t: 023 8042 4502

e: chris.yandell@