JUST hours before the deadline for candidates, UKIP has selected a former councillor to stand as its mayoral candidate for the North of Tyne Combined Authority.

Hugh Jackson, originally of Corbridge, resigned his seat on North Tyneside Council, where he sat as a Conservative, in 2008 after he made controversial comments about the number of children in care.

He was suspended by the Conservatives and later resigned.

The former teacher, who represented the Monkseaton North ward, has since stood as a UKIP candidate in several local elections in North Tyneside.

UKIP chairman Kirstan Herriott said: “UKIP does not condone the comments made in 2008 by Hugh Jackson, who made those comments in the name of the Conservative Party."

A UKIP spokesman added: “He has considerable experience in politics having served for many years as a councillor on North Tyneside Council.

“He was chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee and its representative on the North East Assembly and the court of the University of Newcastle.

“He now wants to take on the vital role of mayor at a time of great change and potential for the area.

“His extensive knowledge and experience of politics and life, coupled with his vision for this part of the country, make him a supremely capable and well qualified candidate.”

Mr Jackson will go to the polls on May 2 against the following mayoral candidates: Jamie Driscoll (Labour), Charlie Hoult (Conservative), John Appleby (Liberal Democrat) and John McCabe (Independent).