Police have launched an investigation into election fraud over the campaign of a student standing for Oxford City Council.

Charles Steel, a Merton College undergraduate and president-elect of Oxford University Conservative Association, is standing for the Tories in the student seat of Holywell but it has been alleged signatures on his official nomination papers were forged.

The city council was approached by some of his 10 proposers and seconders who said they had not signed the official papers.

Council chief executive Caroline Bull immediately passed the information to police, who last night (Thurs) said they had interviewed a man and were investigating the claim.

Mr Steel, pictured, who has not been arrested, was unavailable for comment last night.

Martin John, deputy returning officer at Oxford City Council, said: "We accepted Charles Steel's nomination paper on face value. Some of those who appear as signatories to his name have said they never signed the form.

"As soon as this information was received the returning officer forwarded this information to Thames Valley Police to investigate this matter."

Making a false declaration on an election nomination paper is a criminal offence. Corrupt practice is punishable by a two-year jail sentence and unlimited fine.

Individuals found guilty could also be banned from voting, standing as candidates or election agents.

An Oxford police spokesman said: "We are investigating an allegation of a suspected fraudulent Oxford City Council candidate's nomination form being submitted. One person has been formally interviewed and enquiries continue."

Matthew Barber, the political agent for Central and South Oxfordshire Conservative Group, added: "We will be cooperating fully with the police."