Ex-Ukip councillor arrested on suspicion of murder

Stephen Searle, who was a Ukip county councillor from 2013 to 2017, is understood to have been arrested after his wife of more than 30 years died at the family home in Stowmarket, Suffolk 

Stephen Searle, who served as a Ukip county councillor for four years, with Nigel Farage in 2013
Stephen Searle, who served as a Ukip county councillor for four years, with Nigel Farage in 2013

A former Ukip county councillor is understood to have been arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife.

Stephen Searle, who also stood unsuccessfully as a Ukip parliamentary candidate in the 2017 general election, was being questioned by detectives on Monday after his wife Anne, 62, was found dead at the family home in Stowmarket, Suffolk.

The couple have been married for more than 30 years and reportedly have three sons and several grandchildren.

Mr Searle, a former Royal Marines commando, is thought to have been arrested after an ambulance was called to the Stowmarket house just after 10.20pm on Saturday, to deal with a report of a woman who wasn’t breathing.

An East of England Ambulance Service Trust spokesman said: “They treated a woman in cardiac arrest. Despite their best efforts, the patient sadly died at the scene.”

Mr Searle, Ukip representative for Stowmarket South on Suffolk County Council between 2013 and 2017, is thought to have been arrested shortly afterwards.

A Suffolk Police spokesman said: “A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and he remains in police custody at Bury St Edmunds investigation centre.”

The spokesman confirmed that the arrested man was aged 64, but refused to confirm or deny that it was Mr Searle.

Mr Searle ran for election under the slogan 'Former Royal Marines Commando. He fought for this country. Now he's fighting for you.'

In May 2013 Mr Searle ran for election as a Ukip county councillor under the slogan: “Stephen Anthony Searle. Former Royal Marines Commando. He fought for this country. Now he’s fighting for you.”

After four recounts he beat Conservative candidate and county council Vice Chair Anne Whybrow by a single vote.

A few months later he was being photographed alongside the then Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

Mr Searle, however, lost his county council seat in the May 2017 local elections when he was beaten into fourth place behind the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour candidates.

In the June general election he stood as Ukip parliamentary candidate for Suffolk Central and Ipswich North, but came fifth out of five candidates, with 2.9 per cent of the vote, behind the three main parties and the Greens.

Mr Searle, who has frequently posted about his Royal Marines service on Facebook, is reported to have been a volunteer poppy seller for the Royal British Legion.

It is also understood that he ran the Stag Tavern in Stowmarket with his wife, before the couple sold the pub in 1992.

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