Page last updated at 13:28 GMT, Friday, 21 August 2009 14:28 UK

Anti-Kirkbride campaigner sacked

Mark France campaigning for signatures in Bromsgrove in May
Mark France campaigned in Bromsgrove against Julie Kirkbride

A civil servant whose campaign against Worcestershire Conservative MP Julie Kirkbride led her to step down over her expenses has been sacked.

Mark France was sacked by managers at the Jobcentre in Bromsgrove, for gross misconduct.

The Department for Work and Pensions said he had broken its code of conduct by engaging in political activities.

Ms Kirkbride, who has announced she will step down as Bromsgrove MP at the next election, declined to comment.

Mr France was a prominent figure in the high-profile campaign against Ms Kirkbride at the height of the MP expenses scandal in May.

Signatures gathered

Campaigners claimed to have gathered 6,000 signatures from her constituency calling on her to go.

She was criticised after the News of the World revealed her brother lived rent-free in her constituency home and her sister did secretarial work for her despite living more than 100 miles (160 kilometres) from her constituency.

Julie Kirkbride
Julie Kirkbride has said she will step down at the next election

Her husband, fellow Tory MP Andrew Mackay, also said he would stand down after the Daily Telegraph stated he listed their home in London as his second home and claimed expenses for it.

The Department for Work and Pensions said Mr France had begun work in January and had not met the terms of his probationary period.

It said he had broken its Civil Service Code by speaking about politics on live national television, campaigning for signatures, making statements to the media, standing as an independent candidate in local elections without permission, and making comments on a politics website.

Mr France said he had not been made aware of the code and was considering an appeal.

He said: "I certainly didn't think that by speaking my mind in a democracy that it would lead me to lose my job.

"Everybody should be free to express their opinion. I think it's an issue of human rights."

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