Alton town mayor Cllr Ben Hamlin has resigned after being questioned by police in Basingstoke in relation to a possible breach of electoral law.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary received a complaint suggesting “a false statement or declaration was made” prior to the May 2023 local elections, in which Cllr Hamlin was elected to Alton Town Council.

It is understood the allegations relate to his eligibility as a candidate. East Hampshire District Council ran the May 2023 elections, but it is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure they comply with the eligibility criteria.

A spokesperson for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary said: “We received a report on Tuesday, September 26, 2023 suggesting that there had been a breach of section 65(a) of the Representation of the People Act 1983, namely that a false statement or declaration was made, prior to a council election in the Alton area earlier in 2023.

“An investigation is ongoing as to whether this constituted an election offence. No arrests have been made at this time.”

Cllr Hamlin resigned on February 13. He declined to comment when approached by the Herald.

Alton Town Council said on February 13: “It is with regret that Alton Town Council announces the resignation of the mayor of Alton, Cllr Ben Hamlin. The town council would like to take this opportunity to thank Ben for his hard work during his term of office and for the invaluable contribution that he has made within the community and the town.”

In a resignation email to the council, sent on February 13, Cllr Hamlin said: “I was yesterday subjected to the unpleasant experience of being interviewed under caution by Hampshire police following a complaint against me from a private individual.

“Like members of the previous council, and the previous town clerk, I have endured the playground politics and hate mail, but this has been a step too far for me. Life is too short and there is too much work to do. I have returned the regalia.”

He signed off with “So long, and thanks for all the fish”, which is the title of a Douglas Adams book and a message from dolphins leaving the soon-to-be-doomed Earth.

It is understood councillors will meet on February 21 to discuss the mayor vacancy, and that a formal decision will be made at an extraordinary full council meeting on February 28.