Bird publishes personal messages
A senior Ukip official suspended over claims over sexual harassment has published a file of personal messages which he says show he was in a relationship with the high-profile election candidate concerned.
General secretary Roger Bird insisted he was not a "predator" and was confident a full party inquiry would clear his name.
The claims of impropriety were made by Natasha Bolter, who says she felt pressured to sleep with the man overseeing candidate approvals in order to further her potential career in the eurosceptic outfit.
Ms Bolter - who defected from Labour in a blaze of publicity and was introduced on stage at this year's Ukip conference by Mr Bird - said that although he propositioned her, he was a "gentleman" when she declined.
Mr Bird, who is single, insists however that they enjoyed a six-week consensual, sexual relationship that began a week after she had been approved to join the approved candidates list.
The former Conservative councillor, who quit the Tories in 2009 and switched to the eurosceptic party the following year, released part of what he said was a large collection of emails, texts and photographs which backed his side of the story.
He said the liaison began "some time after" the candidate assessment and was ended by him on November 2.
Among the messages he said were received from Ms Bolter, one read: "But I love u and miss u and think u r sort of perfect..."
Another, apparently referring to the close of the Ukip conference in Doncaster, read: "R u still cool with me leaving suitcase here and coming home with u? Xx".
Others expressed sentiments such as "really missing u bird", "U r not coming back and accordingly my life will go back to a meaningless void" and "U r a really great mentor bird".
"Natasha Bolter and I were in a consensual relationship. This took place some time after her candidate assessment," he said.
"All of the suggestions that I was being some kind of predator and all the rest of it is entirely unsubstantiated by the facts."
Ms Bolter, who has withdrawn from the race to contest the key South Basildon seat in Essex, agreed that she had sent a series of messages but told BBC2's Newsnight: "None of them changes my story."
"I did not sleep with Roger Bird, end of," she said.
In an interview for the programme, she said: "When I said no nothing happened. He's a gentleman.
"I never felt scared of him, I just felt pressured maybe that if I did the right thing my career would go faster and further."
"He wasn't taking me seriously as a candidate; he was looking at me as a sex object."
She said the issue could have been dealt with by way of a "tap on the wrist" if the party had acted more swiftly and both parties continued.
But she suggested it was part of a wider issue.
"We need to look at it in the greater picture: if they are not looking after a candidate that is going to stand in one of their target seats who is bringing forward serious allegations of sexism and racism and misogyny, are they really going to look after our electorate."
Mr Bird said he "really could not even hazard a guess" at why she might wish to invent a claim against him.
"I suspect that perhaps she's fallen out of love with Ukip for reasons unconnected to me," he said.