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Page last updated at 15:38 GMT, Friday, 31 October 2008

Briton denies Spanish mayor role

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Mr Lewis campaigned last year on an anti-corruption ticket

A British man named in media reports as the "accidental mayor" of a town on the Costa Blanca, has denied that he has taken up the position.

Mark Lewis was said to have taken over the reins in San Fulgencio after the mayor, the deputy and four councillors were arrested over alleged corruption.

The 58-year-old was elected to the council last year after campaigning on an anti-corruption ticket.

But he told the BBC he was never invited to become mayor.

Mr Lewis confirmed that the current mayor, Trinidad Martinez, was among those arrested earlier this week on corruption allegations.

However, he said that Ms Martinez had since been released and continued to perform her duties as mayor, while a police investigation was ongoing.

Corruption investigation

The scandal erupted last week when several Spanish media outlets broadcast a video of the deputy mayor allegedly accepting a 5,000 euro (3,900) bribe from property developers.

"It is better in large denomination bills. They occupy less space," Manuel Barrera Garcia was allegedly caught on camera saying.

Mr Garcia, who was arrested on 20 October and released on bail, denies any wrongdoing and says it was a politically motivated set-up.

The mayor and several councillors were also later detained as the corruption investigation has widened.

Mr Lewis, who moved to Spain some 25 years ago, was appointed last year as Councillor for Animals - a position in which he was responsible for organising searches for lost pets.

He was elected to the council last year with the independent AIM party.

Media outlets including the BBC reported that he had become mayor as a temporary measure while the corruption inquiry ran its course.

San Fulgencio is 25 miles from Alicante in the south-east of the country, and has a population of 11,000, the vast majority of whom are British.



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