A Keighley councillor has resigned from the Conservative group on Bradford Council after being charged with fraud.

Councillor Robert Payne is due to make his first appearance at Bingley Magistrates’ Court next Thursday to face the accusation.

This week he apologised — through the Keighley News — for the situation he had found himself in but stressed he had not yet been convicted of any offence.

Cllr Payne, who represents Keighley West, said: “I am deeply regretful for what has happened and the situation I have found myself in and I apologise.

“I am continuing to serve as an independent councillor but if I was to be found guilty I would step down altogether from Bradford Council.”

Conservative group leader Cllr Anne Hawkesworth confirmed Cllr Payne had resigned from the Tory group “for personal reasons”. She said: “The Conservative Group will not be commenting on the personal circumstances of Cllr Payne, which are subject to legal proceedings.”

The telephone number listed for Cllr Payne’s company ARL Enterprises (Europe) Ltd, registered in Alkincote Street, Keighley, is no longer recognised.

And the Companies House website this week listed the status of ARL Enterprises (Europe) Ltd as “active – proposal to strike off”.

It also stated that the firm’s accounts, due to be returned in August last year, were overdue.