Ukip candidate quits over comments
Kerry Smith has quit as Ukip's candidate in a top target seat after being forced to apologise for a series of offensive comments.
In recordings of phone calls obtained by the Mail on Sunday, the would-be MP was said to have mocked gay party members as "poofters", joked about shooting people from Chigwell in a "peasant hunt" and referred to someone as a "Chinky bird".
They were revealed just days after he was reinstated as the party's general election candidate in South Basildon and East Thurrock.
He initially apologised and explained that he had been under great stress at the time of the comments and taking strong pain killers.
But in a statement, he said: "I have this evening offered my resignation as Ukip PPC (prospective parliamentary candidate) for South Basildon and East Thurrock.
"I want the best for South Basildon and East Thurrock and I want to see the real issues discussed that touch the lives of people.
"Therefore I have chosen to resign so that Ukip can win this seat next May."
His decision throws back open what has become a highly-contentious selection process in a seat Ukip harbours serious hopes of winning in 2015.
Mr Smith was deselected as the candidate in October - with Neil Hamilton, the former Tory minister who is now Ukip's deputy chairman, the most prominent of those who entered the frame to replace him.
But he was then reinstated and Mr Hamilton ended up endorsing him in his hustings speech at the selection meeting, before lashing out at party insiders over what he said was a "dirty tricks" campaign being run against him.
His tirade against the "cancer at the heart of Ukip" came after a letter from the party's finance committee about his expenses claims was leaked.
Mr Hamilton called for the party's national executive committee (NEC) to take action against those involved in the "black arts of selective briefing, misrepresentation and outright lies".
A party spokesman was unable to give details at this stage of when the selection process would be re-run.
After the newspaper published details of his words, Mr Smith, who sits on both Essex County Council and Basildon District Councils, issued "a wholehearted and unreserved apology to those I have offended within the party and anyone else".
In a bid to explain his behaviour he noted that "at the time of this recording I was considering my resignation due to major management changes which I have since discovered I completely misread and misunderstood".
"For the record I was also on a strong morphine based prescription medication for a back injury," he said - suggesting the conversations were recorded more than two years ago.
He also accepted that claims he made in the calls about party leader Nigel Farage and other senior figures were "completely wrong" and "fuelled by frustrations at the time".
Ukip MEP Patrick O'Flynn had said that while the language used was unacceptable, in the circumstances the party was "willing now to judge him on his performance going forward from now".
In the leaked recordings, Mr Smith is said to have attacked Olly Neville, former leader of Ukip's youth wing who was sacked last year after saying he backed gay marriage.
According to the Mail on Sunday transcripts, Mr Smith said: "Olly Neville - the sun shines out of his rear end. He is now setting up BLT Ukip on Facebook. What the old poofter groups call themselves.
"I just call it BLT like the sandwiches. It's them letters BLT with a Q on the end, bacon lettuce and tomato.
"It's got our logo done with a rainbow. F*****g loopy. That's been approved by the NEC. That's f*****g disgusting."
Mr Smith is also said to have mocked Lucy Bostick, a Ukip activist in Chigwell, for printing "boring c**p" on her leaflets.
According to the transcripts, he said: "This is Chigwell. If she was doing a survey in Chigwell the question should be 'Do you oppose the EU banning the use of lead in shotguns as that way you can shoot more peasants coming from Chigwell? 'Do you support a peasant's hunt through Chigwell village?'"
In addition he is understood to have referred to a "Chinky bird" he claimed gatecrashed a Ukip rally and lunch with Mr Farage.