REFORM UK has said it is “mortified” after the party sacked a general election candidate who turned out to be deceased.

The party had dropped York Central candidate Tommy Cawkwell after he did not respond to any emails or phone calls.

Reform initially said it had rescinded his candidacy for “inappropriate social media messages,” although it later turned out he had in fact died after the selection process.

A spokesman for Reform UK told LBC: “Naturally I am mortified that through ignorance I did not realise the reason for his inactivity, it must have been ghastly for his family to read about it in the way it was presented in the press.”

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After first being sacked, a spokesman said the party needs “candidates who are active to give people the candidates they deserve” and added: “We can’t afford to have people doing nothing in an election year.”

After it emerged the candidate had died, the spokesman said: “Having it being suggested that we had rescinded Mr Cawkwell’s candidacy for inappropriate social media messages by a local paper, I suggested that he was one of those candidates that had been removed for inactivity.

“The process, if we have not heard from a candidate in a while we try and get in touch, a number of phone calls and emails are made, then if no response a final email is sent suggesting that the candidate does not respond then they will be removed.

“Reform was not aware that Mr Cawkwell had passed away, as this happened in an interregnum between Yorkshire area managers. So with no response being made he was removed.”

It comes after the party’s leader Richard Tice (below) was forced to defend his party’s vetting process after a number of candidates were dropped.

The National: Reform Party leader Richard Tice (PA)

At least 12 have been ditched or suspended due to posts made on social media with Tice saying his party is “the fastest party to get rid of candidates” over inappropriate behaviour.

We told last week how a Scottish candidate for the party was suspended for making pro-cannibalism comments and saying the human race should be “obliterated”.

The National also revealed the party is standing a candidate in the upcoming election who declared himself the “prophet of a new age” and who wanted to subsidise brothel visits for civil servants.