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Ukip leader Paul Nuttall gives witness statement to Hillsborough probe

Ukip leader Paul Nuttall has given a witness statement to the criminal investigation into the Hillsborough disaster.

The under-fire parliamentary hopeful, who faced the resignation of two senior officials on Monday in protest at the party's "crass insensitivity" over the tragedy, said he had spent three hours giving a witness statement to Operation Resolve.

Mr Nuttall faced a fierce backlash and calls to resign as an MEP after it emerged claims that he lost close personal friends at Hillsborough were false.

During a radio hustings with other candidates in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election, the party leader insisted he had apologised to the "people that matter".

He told BBC Radio 5 Live's Breakfast he spent "three hours yesterday morning in Operation Resolve giving a witness statement".

A Ukip press officer took the blame last week for claims - carried on Mr Nuttall's website for six years - about losing close friends when 96 Liverpool fans died in the 1989 disaster.

Asked if he would make a general apology to the people of Liverpool, Mr Nuttall said: "I want to put this in perspective, right.

"I didn't check something which went up on my website. It's not as if I've taken illegally from the public purse. It's not as if I've said something racist, it's not as if I have sent people to war."

The party's millionaire backer Arron Banks caused further anger when he said he was "sick to death" of hearing about Hillsborough and accused critics of Mr Nuttall of "milking" the disaster for political purposes.

Mr Nuttall said he had not spoken to Mr Banks about his comments and had no power to kick him out of the party because he is not a member.

The by-election candidate said he "wasn't over the moon" when he heard what had been said.

"It wasn't fair, it wasn't right, that certainly isn't the feeling in Liverpool and I condone what he said, completely."

Mr Nuttall then corrected himself to say he condemned Mr Banks' comments.

Labour candidate Gareth Snell also had apologies to make during the 90-minute debate, saying he was sorry for the "fruity" language he used in a tweet describing Brexit as "a massive pile of shit".

He said he wanted to "apologise to my wife, my grandmother and my daughter" for disparaging remarks about women on TV which he had made on Twitter.

But Mr Snell said that he did not discuss with Jeremy Corbyn, during his three campaign visits to Stoke, his earlier criticism of the Labour leader as an "IRA-supporting friend of Hamas".

"We had a fractious summer in our party, we spent a lot of time arguing amongst ourselves, things got heated and things were said," Mr Snell told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"The comments I made were to point out that we were getting to a point of hyperbole in our party that was damaging us publicly.

"But since then, I have met Jeremy, he has been to the constituency three times and he has been campaigning with us.

"We have been on the doorstep and every time he has spoken to somebody they have been glad to talk with him."

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