A Conservative chairman and his deputy have defected to UKIP.

The Tory leadership in Crawley has been accused of descending into anarchy after a series of bullying rows, sexual harassment claims and now defections.

Yesterday it emerged the chairman and deputy chairman of Crawley Conservative Association Lee Gilroy and Karl Williamson had defected to UKIP.

It follows a vote of no confidence against them backed by 95 per cent of Tory members in Crawley.

The Labour leader of the opposition said the Conservatives had effectively lost control of the council.

Councillor Peter Lamb said: “The defections mark just one of a series of steps in the Crawley Conservative Party’s descent into anarchy.

“This current civil war is bad for the town and the exit of these two members will do nothing to stop the fighting.”

He said absent Tory councillors had effectively given Labour a majority.

Coun Lamb added: “The reality is an administration without a majority at meetings cannot push through their policy and is, in effect, no longer in control of the council.”

Twelve Conservative councillors signed a no-confidence motion against Coun Williamson and Mr Gilroy over claims of bullying and poor management of the county council election.

Coun Williamson has made a complaint to Conservative Party HQ and the police that council leader Bob Lanzer sexually harassed him over a series of text messages.

Councillor Lanzer has denied the claims and made a counterclaim to police against Williamson.

Mr Gilroy said the no-confidence vote was retaliation for him reporting the sexual harassment claims up the chain of command.

Last week Crawley UKIP chairman John Mac Canna admitted he had been in talks with Conservatives about joining UKIP.

He said: “We could be holding the balance of power in Crawley - it’s all within the bounds of possibilities.”

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