A town hall by-election ended in violence when a 72-year-old candidate was slapped by a Conservative councillor.

UKIP member Mike Beggs was attending the count at Lymington Town Hall when he was struck by Tory Penny Jackman, a member of the district council and the New Forest National Park Authority.

Mr Beggs, of Lymington, said the blow broke the four-tooth bridge in his upper left jaw and had caused him sleepless nights.

Cllr Jackman took exception to Mr Beggs's election leaflets, which mentioned the controversial attempt by the town council to evict Lymington cricket Club from the town centre ground it has occupied for 175 years.

The leaflets cited one meeting at which Cllr Jackman clashed with the cricketers and told a fellow councillor: “Let's shut the buggers down.”

Mr Beggs said he was subjected to a “tirade” of abuse by Cllr Jackman at the count and was suddenly slapped in the face.

He added: “I have had a full apology from Cllr Jackman in which she is most apologetic. She has assured me it will not happen again.”

In a statement Cllr Jackman said: “I have known Mike Beggs for about 14 years since our children attended Hordle Walhampton School together plus various parties, clubs and other out-of-school gatherings over the years. I considered him a friend.

“I deeply regret the incident that occurred at the Lymington and Pennington Town Council by-election count.

“I apologised the following day and Mike was gracious enough to accept my apology. I have no further comment to make.”

The by-election, caused by the resignation of Jean Vernon-Jackson, was won by Conservative candidate Michael White.