A FORMER British National Party election candidate and a dentist have been cleared of plotting explosions.

Former BNP candidate Robert Cottage, of Talbot street, Colne, and David Jackson, of Trent Road, Nelson, were alleged to have stockpiled chemicals they bought on the internet and discussed using them to cause explosions.

But they were cleared of conspiracy to cause explosions with intent to endanger life after a jury at Manchester Crown Court failed to reach a verdict.

It was the pair's second trial on the charge after the first jury was also discharged.

Cottage had admitted possessing explosives for unlawful purpose at the first trial because he said he needed to defend himself as the country was heading to civil war.

He was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on July 31.

Mr Jackson, who was also cleared of possessing explosives, walked free from Manchester Crown Court after more than 10 months on remand in prison. He refused to comment, except to say he was "very relieved".

The trials are estimated to have cost the taxpayer more than £100,000.

Det Supt Mick Gradwell, who led the investigation, denied the trials had been waste of money, and said Cottage could have gone on to endanger himself and the public had he not been arrested.

He paid tribute to Cottage's wife, Carina, who first alerted police and social workers to his "paranoid" behaviour over fears of an impending civil war.

Mr Gradwell said: "This came about because of the courage of Carina Cottage, who came forward to the health authority and the police to say she was concerned about her husband and could they help.

"He was becoming paranoid, stockpiling food and chemicals and it is because of her courage that a more serious incident did not occur.

"It's quite right that this was brought to court again. Cottage had admitted he was planning to make gunpowder. Someone else, or himself, could have been seriously hurt."

Mr Gradwell denied accusations that the case would have been handled differently if the defendants had been Asian, not white British men.

He said: "This investigation was not from intelligence-led, proactive policing.

"It was Carina Cottage saying come and help me, and her husband stockpiling food because he thought there was going to be a civil war.

"These are totally different circumstances to any Islamic terror trials.

"When we found the explosive substances we also downloaded from a computer in the house recipes for making explosives."