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Arron Banks 'sticks by' controversial Hillsborough comments

Ukip backer Arron Banks has repeated that he is "sick to death" of hearing about the Hillsborough disaster and said he would "stick by" his controversial comments.

The party's leader Paul Nuttall, who is hoping to oust Labour in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election on Thursday, sparked outrage and calls to resign as an MEP after it emerged claims that he lost close personal friends at Hillsborough were false.

Mr Banks hit back at opponents who criticised Mr Nuttall, writing on Twitter that he was "sick to death of hearing about it (Hillsborough)".

"It was a disaster and that's it, not some sort of cultural happening," he tweeted on February 14.

Speaking to Emma Barnett on BBC 5 live on Wednesday, Mr Banks accused the Labour party of politicising the disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

He said: "I know the people up in Liverpool probably get hot under the collar for those comments, but as far as I'm concerned, I stick by what I said.

"We can't keep going on about things forever, can we?

"I mean Hillsborough obviously was a disaster, it was wrong it was covered up... the Labour party want to politicise it as an issue but I find that deeply distasteful."

Mr Banks said the claims, which were on Mr Nuttall's website since 2011, had surfaced as part of a Labour party "smear campaign".

He told the programme: "It had been on his website since 2011. You know what happens in politics.

"The Labour party goes through whatever anyone's ever said, and then brings it up in the last week of a by-election."

On Monday, two senior Ukip officials in Liverpool quit over the party's "crass insensitivity" over the Hillsborough tragedy.

Mr Banks said he "didn't know" if the comments had written off future support for Ukip in Liverpool, but added: "I think politicians and people associated with politicians need to say what they think rather than what they think people want them to say and if that occasionally goes wrong then so be it."

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