UKIP leader Robert Ray has pleaded not guilty to driving while more than twice over the drink drive limit.

The 65-year-old appeared in the dock at Basildon Magistrates’ Court for the first time on Tuesday after he was unable to attend a hearing earlier this month due to a bout of pneumonia.

Ray, of Purfleet Road, Aveley, who is leader of the UKIP group in Thurrock, is accused of driving a silver Peugeot 406 in Orsett Hall car park in the early hours of June 13 with 75 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the limit is 35.

Prosecutor Sam Doyle, who argued a further adjournment was necessary to gather evidence, detailed the charges for the court.

She said: “The allegation is that hotel staff contacted police to say a drunk couple were about to leave the hotel.

“Staff approached and asked them not to drive and that advice was ignored so staff contacted the police saying people were leaving in a vehicle drunk.

“Police attended when the car was heading out of the car park.”

Ray was released on unconditional bail and ordered to attend a case management hearing at the court on September 11.