London (CNN)A scout leader in England has resigned after members of his troop were found to be distributing political campaign leaflets.
Scout leader quits after using troop to distribute election campaign leaflets
The unidentified leader stepped down after a complaint was sent to Lincolnshire Scouts about the 1st Marshchapel Scout Group delivering information for Conservative Party candidates in the local elections, which take place on Thursday.
Several other volunteers for the troop in eastern England have now also resigned, a spokesman for the Scout Association said in a statement.
The leaflets were promoting candidates Paul Rickett and Daniel McNally, who are both campaigning for spots on the East Lindsey District Council.
Reports in the British media suggest the children were enlisted in exchange for the chance to rent an allotment space for a year. They planned to grow vegetables on the plot, which would help run a soup kitchen, Sky News reported.
According to the Scout Association website, integrity is one of scouting's core values. "We act with integrity; we are honest, trustworthy and loyal," the website says.
Moreover, the movement's regulations bar scouts from affiliation with any political body.
"Members of the Movement in uniform, or individuals when acting as representatives of the Movement, must not take part in any party political meetings or activities that endorse any particular political party or candidate," guidelines on the website state.
Turnout for local elections tends to be low, while the Conservative Party is currently riddled with divisions over the government's handling of the Brexit crisis.
In a statement to CNN, a spokesman for the Scout Association described the episode as a "genuine error," saying: "Following receipt of this complaint the local volunteer manager spoke with the Group Scout Leader of the Scout Group concerned and it was clear this was a genuine error on behalf of the Group and one they have apologized for."
He continued: "In accordance with Scouting's rules the matter was reported to the Charity Commission by the local volunteer manager. Subsequently the Group Scout Leader of the 1st Marshchapel Scout Group submitted his resignation after taking full responsibility for the incident. Other volunteers have also since resigned. No volunteers have been asked to leave the Scout Movement because of this incident."
The troop will continue operating, the spokesman said.
Ian Lavery, chairman of the opposition Labour Party, described the episode as bribery.
In a statement to CNN, he said: "With the Tories having so few supporters, they've now resorted to bribing scouts groups to deliver leaflets for them. This has led to committed local volunteers quitting the scouts over this scandal. If any Tory councillor thinks that bribing children to deliver leaflets is appropriate, how can we ever trust them to manage our local authorities."
CNN has contacted the candidates and representatives of the Conservative Party for comment.