THE leader of Thurrock UKIP, Councillor Robert Ray, has confirmed he is standing down from his role as group leader.

Mr Ray, who represents the Aveley and Uplands ward, said he has made the decision as he doesn’t want his current court case, where he is accused of drink driving, to distract from the party.

Speaking to the Gazette, Mr Ray said: “I don’t want any distractions for the party or the local representatives of the party. I felt it was better at this time to save any accusations.”

Mr Ray added he has no intention of standing from his role as Councillor, and he will continue his work in the background.

He added: “I wanted to make sure the distractions of whats being said in the press of through things like Twitter was brought to an end. It’s better for me step back and take the lime light away.”

Councillor Graham Snell is to be the new group leader.

Mr Ray is accused of driving a silver Peugeot 406 in Orsett Hall car park in the early hours of June 13 whilst more than twice over the drink drive limit.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge at Basildon Magistrates Court earlier this month. He was released on unconditional bail and ordered to attend a case management hearing at the court on September 11.