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Ukip vow over 'abhorrent' abuse

Published 06/05/2015

Ukip candidate for North East Hampshire Robert Blay
Ukip candidate for North East Hampshire Robert Blay
Two Ukip General Election candidates are in the spotlight over offensive jibes

Ukip's deputy chairman is to push the party to toughen up its vetting and assessment of candidates after one was suspended for aiming "abhorrent" abuse at a rival.

Suzanne Evans added Ukip would keep suspending members if the media keeps "fishing them out for us" after the Daily Mirror published a video showing Robert Blay appearing to make racial slurs and a threat to shoot Tory opponent Ranil Jayawardena if he became prime minister.

The ex-Conservative, who is standing for election in North East Hampshire, made the comments to investigators from the newspaper at a public meeting on Saturday in Ramsgate, which was addressed by party leader Nigel Farage.

Another Ukip candidate, John Leathley, said he was "appalled and deeply ashamed" of comments he made online about liberal newspaper columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

His Facebook postings, which apparently followed an appearance last year by Ms Alibhai-Brown on BBC's Question Time, included statements that the commentator "needs a good shag" and she "would love a big black thing up her arse".

The party said it immediately suspended Mr Blay for his apparent outburst while Mr Leathley - who is standing in Sedgefield, County Durham - said he was "very sorry" for being "so coarse".

Speaking at a Westminster press conference, Ms Evans said : "One of the things I'd be very keen to do is to have a look at our candidate assessment process and see how we can toughen it up because, while I have spent this campaign saying we are certainly no worse than the other parties, I would like to think we could be better in the future.

"I think we do need to look at our candidate assessment process, look at how we vet people more closely and do it in more depth, and it's certainly something I will be pushing for after the election."

In response to further questions from reporters, Ms Evans said: "You keep fishing them out for us, we'll keep suspending them.

"That's what we'll do until - we don't want this thing in the party. We're the only party that will not tolerate any former members of extremist groups and I'm very proud of that record.

"We make mistakes but when we make mistakes we're honest enough to put our hands up and deal with them.

"As I say, it's a shame the Labour Party still hasn't condemned that segregated meeting yet."

Patrick O'Flynn, Ukip's economy spokesman, praised the Daily Mirror's story and noted its questioning "drew out opinions which were clearly obnoxious".

He added: "We've taken the action that's appropriate. I'm looking forward to the similar expose of the inner city Birmingham segregated meetings by the Labour Party. I guess that'll be prominent in tomorrow's Mirror and it might just be in time to sway a few readers in their vote.

"In terms of most problems we've had, they do tend to be people who have joined us from the Conservative Party, that's very true.

"I don't know particularly why that is and I certainly don't know why this candidate came to us from the Conservative Party, but they will deal with their disciplinary issues and we'll deal with ours."

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