A UKIP MEP apologised last night for retweeting a link to a virulently anti-Semitic blog after her party had initially mounted an extraordinary defence of the politician.
Jane Collins, who was elected this year to represent Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, posted a link to a page of an extremist blog attacking Labour’s deputy leader Harriett Harman over allegations an organisation she once worked for had links to paedophile rights campaigners. The opening sentence referred to the politician as a “Jewess” – which she is not.
Featured elsewhere on the blog are vehrmently anti-Semitic posts including one entitled ‘Book review: Jewish supremicism by Dr David Duke’. Another post called ‘Holocaust or Holohoax? 21 amazing facts’ is featured in a list of the site’s most popular posts. Although the UKIP MEP did not retweet any of theses pages, the list is clearly visible alongside every post on the website.
After Jewish News repeatedly pressed the party – which is expected to secure its first seat in the House of Commons in tomorrow’s Clacton by-election – Collins deleted the Tweet and subsequently apologised. “I have deleted my retweet after seeing how vile the cigpapers blog it linked to is. Sorry to have caused offence to the Jewish community,” she wrote on the microgging site. The retweet had remained on her account for three days and for around 24 hours after this paper brought it to the attention of the party.
The about-turn came less than 24 hours after UKIP defended the MEP. After this newspaper’s first call to the party, a UKIP spokesman told the Jewish News “wholeheartedly opposes anti-Semitism” and added: “She is in no way endorsing the blog, or its previous content, which I am sure she has never read or would never read. That somebody is described as a Jewess, whether accurately or not should be of no more consequence, nor should it be any more insulting than saying that Mrs Collins is a Yorkshire-woman, it is merely descriptive not pejorative. Unless of course the Jewish News is suggesting otherwise. If so then an apology would be appropriate.”
And in an extraordinary remark, the party goes on to refer to a listing for a comedy event featured on the Jewish News’ website earlier this year in which the antiquated term is used. It highlights a “5 starred collection of stories-in-song; charting feuding tailors, a Jewess who joins a 1950s Christian cult, a cocaine-addicted rabbi and many more”.
“That the story has been highlighted by a collection of hard left anti-UKIP bloggers and online warriors says more about them than any falsely perceived anti-Semitism.”
It was only after a second call to the party that a UKIP spokesman described the blog as “vile”, though he continued to insist that the term ‘jewess’ was usually “as unloaded a term as Yorkshireman”. He acknowledged this was not the case with this blog.
The Community Security Trust earlier urged UKIP to look closely at the link and apologise. A spokesman said: “It is clear that Jane Collins has made a serious error of judgement. The article’s opening words are ‘Jewess Harriet Ruth Harman’. Above all this, the website itself has two sections, ‘home’ and ‘Join the British Truth Movement – Stop White Genocide’. Another plainly visible link on the site is ‘Holocaust or Holohoax? 21 Amazing Facts’.
“So it is ridiculous for UKIP to claim that this website’s word ‘Jewess’ is merely descriptive; and it is a gross insult to use the Jewish News website as a point of comparison. I hope Ukip will do the responsible thing and issue a sincere apology.”
Board of Deputies Vice President Jonathan Arkush said: “We are amazed by the UKIP spokesperson’s response. Not only have they failed to acknowledge the irresponsibility of an elected politician retweeting an article posted on a white supremacist and racist website , but they totally missed the point that reference to Harriet Harman’s supposed faith was wrong, irrelevant, deeply offensive to Jews and could encourage anti-Semitism.”
The retweet was first highlighted by former JLC chief executive Jeremy Newmark. The specific page posted by Collins to allegations highlighting by the Daily Mail earlier this year that the National Council for Civil Liberties, where she worked as a legal officer, had granted “affiliate” status to a paedophile rights group. The
long-time politician denied claims she had been an “apologist for paedophilia” and, while expressing “regret” at the links which were established before she began working for NCCL in 1978, insisted she had nothing to apologise for.
The UKIP spokesman said: “Let this be a lesson to UKIPers and politicians of all parties, it is deeply unwise to just send a retweet without first checking where it came from. This blog is vile is and it’s beholden to people on people to check their sources.”
Gay UKIP MEP David Coburn has labelled Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservative party, a “fat lesbian”.
Mr Coburn, who is UKIP’s most prominent gay politician but opposes same-sex marriage, managed to clinch the party’s first seat in Scotland during May’s European elections.
According to the Daily Record, he was overheard on a train ripping into other Scottish politicians, labelling Ms Davidson a “fat lesbian” and Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont a “fish wife”.
He added: “Voting Green is a cult like Scientology or something.”
When challenged by the newspaper, he said: “I’m a fat Scotsman, there so. I don’t recall any of this.”
A UKIP spokesperson also brushed off the claims, adding: “David Coburn has no recollection of the alleged conversation.”
Mr Coburn is no stranger to controversial remarks, claiming earlier this month that the Scottish National Party’s electoral tactics are “fascist”, comparing Alex Salmond to Robert Mugabe.
He has previously claimed that “neo-right” activists are to blame for same-sex marriage, which he says“breeds” homophobia.
Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Conservative Party in Scotland, responded to homophobic comments on social media during an independence debate earlier this month.
She said: “While I am not overly affected by it, I think it is important that young LGBT people know that they don’t have to just accept the kind of hate words which are thrown about online and which are unacceptable.”
Mr Coburn, who was previously the party’s London regional chairman, declared that same-sex marriage was “unnecessary” while writing for PinkNews in 2012.
Despite UKIP’s best attempts to dampen the fire that began following Janice Atkinson’s controversial comments that referred to a Thai UKIP member as a “Ting Tong” it appears that the controversy is far from disappearing.
Atkinson’s comments were recorded by the BBC. In the footage the MEP can be heard talking about a married couple who she had met earlier in the day saying: “…so that was good. We’ve got Fa who’s, I dunno, she’s a ting tong from somewhere.”
She attempted to claim that the comments were naive rather than malicious and said she was “incredibly sorry” for offending the couple.
She said: “I deeply regret the words I used and am incredibly sorry. It was poor judgment and naivety on my part rather than words spoken with any malice.”
UKIP claimed that Atkinson had offered the couple, Mr & Mrs Munday from Ramsgate a full apology, with UKIP leader Nigel Farage also making a hastily arranged personal visit to the Munday’s.
However, it has become clear that the Ramsgate couple are still far from impressed with the behaviour of Janice Atkinson.
On a posting made on social media, Vincent Munday wrote:
“Let’s put a few myths to bed once and for all.
My wife and I did not go to the BBC, it was rather a case of us being tricked into listening to the video whilst on camera, hence the shock on our faces when we hear Janice Atkinson referring to my wife as a ting tong from somewhere.
I would like to say however that we are glad that we were told what she had said and I thank Elle from the BBC for playing it to us.
In my opinion, rather than naively saying what she said, Ms Atkinson used the term referring to the little Britain character, her subsequent “apology” means nothing, she said what she meant and meant what she said.
I can categorically state that my wife was never up for sale and that she was not a “Thai bride”. Ms Atkinson did phone me the next day, anyone with half an ounce of decency would have done their utmost to say sorry but as opposed to doing this her arrogance prevailed, she spent most of the time pointing what damage my wife and I would do to the party and Nigel, she didn’t seem to realise that it was her comments that were doing that.
The rest of the time was spent trying to point out what a lovely person she was because she had tried to help her husbands best friends wife, who also happens to be a Thai national, stay in the country.
Her written apology which was obviously written by a press team meant nothing, her silence since the incident has been deafening, she has done nothing to put the matter to bed. Yes Nigel has come to my house and apologised, whilst this is a lovely gesture, he did nothing wrong and the apology was unwarranted.
I would like to say at this point that my wife and I bear him and the party no malice whatsoever. The story has since been on Thai tv, this has hurt my wife badly and she has been very upset by this, it’s hard for us to understand this, Thai culture is quite complicated but she has shed a few tears which upsets me too.
Once again, in my opinion, Janice Atkinson has shown her true colours, I think she has her own interests at heart, she is an arrogant racist who has been caught out and I firmly believe deserves to be ejected from the party because it’s very unlikely her arrogance would allow her to leave of her own volition.
Anyone who knows my wife will know what a sweet and lovely person she is and that she certainly didn’t deserve Ms Atkinson’s horrible comment.”
Hope not Hate
A Ukip MEP has apologised “profusely” after calling a Thai constituent, and member of the party, a “ting tong”.
Janice Atkinson, who represents the south east, was recorded making the comments after meeting Fa Munday, a mobile food seller in Ramsgate, Kent.
She said: “..so that was good. We’ve got Fa who’s, I dunno, she’s a ting tong from somewhere.”
Mrs Munday and her husband Vincent, both loyal Ukip supporters, handed back their membership of the party claiming they felt “betrayed”.
The caterer, 35, who has lived in England since she got married eight years ago, said: “I can’t understand why she said that.
“It left me feeling hurt and disgusted. Nobody has ever spoken to me in that way.”
Senior party member Ms Atkinson’s comments were captured by the BBC team while she spoke to local people and Ukip members in Ramsgate.
She insisted the comments were naive rather than malicious and said she was “incredibly sorry” for offending the couple.
She said: “I deeply regret the words I used and am incredibly sorry. It was poor judgment and naivety on my part rather than words spoken with any malice. I am devastated that I have caused hurt and apologise profusely to both Mr and Mrs Munday.”
A Ukip spokesman said: “Janice has apologised for the words she used. Ukip in no way condones the use of language that may reflect prejudice or cause offence and we sincerely hope this matter can be resolved privately.”
Mr Munday, 54, who had previously campaigned for UKIP, vowed never to support the party again.
He said: “We both feel betrayed, and it’s absolutely outrageous what she said.
“Come rain or shine, I was out there leafleting for UKIP, and we get rewarded with this racist bigotry.”
“When we heard the comments, we were absolutely shell-shocked. Nobody should speak like that, not at all.”
Vincent and his wife had been members of the party for four years.
He added: “I firmly believe that Nigel Farage doesn’t have a racist bone in his body, but Janice Atkinson quite evidently does.
Ukip MEP Bill Etheridge has been caught in a race-row once again after praising Adolf Hitler for his “magnetic and forceful” qualities as a public speaker to a roomful of prospective party candidates.
Mr Etheridge referenced the Nazi leader’s behaviour during his speeches at the Nuremberg rallies while training young Ukip members planning on standing for council or parliamentary elections, according to the Mail on Sunday.
The West Midlands MEP – who has written a book celebrating “golliwogs” – called on candidates to look to a “hateful figure who achieved a great deal” during his talk.
“Look back to the most magnetic and forceful public speaker possibly in history.
“When Hitler gave speeches, and many of the famous ones were at rallies, at the start he walks, back and forth, looked at people – there was silence, he waited minutes just looking out at people, fixing them with his gaze,” he said.
“They were looking back and he would do it for a while. And then they were so desperate for him to start, when he started speaking they were hanging on every word,” he said, adding: “I’m not saying direct copy – pick up little moments”.
No stranger to controversy, Mr Etheridge defected to Ukip after claiming that his “right to express his views” were being stifled by the Conservative party.
He and his wife had left the Tories after they were summoned to a disciplinary committee and suspended after a colleague complained about pictures on Mr Etheridge’s Facebook page showing him posing with a “golliwog” doll.
He later wrote a book celebrating the controversial children’s toys, using them as an example in his argument about “political correctness”.
The Ukip training session was described by Labour MP Mike Gapes as ‘unbelievable’.
He said: “I thought nothing could surprise me any more, but this just goes to show that Farage has completely failed to clean up his party.
“One of his MEPs training young candidates to speak like Hitler? Simply unbelievable.”
Ukip has repeatedly faced public outcry following offensive or controversial comments by its members. Last year Godfrey Bloom resigned following a string of incidents including joking that the party’s female activists were “sluts”, while earlier this year William Henwood, an Enfield council candidate, suggested comedian Lenny Henry should leave Britain to live in a “black country”.
Party leader Nigel Farage, who is expected to run for Parliament in the next election, has not commented on the most recent incident.
Instead Mr Etheridge released a statement responding to the criticism surrounding his speech. He said: “I was talking about a whole range of public speakers and the techniques they used. I also mentioned Tony Blair.
“At no point did I endorse Hitler or anybody else. I was merely discussing public speaking and the techniques used down the years.
“Hitler and the Nazis were monsters and I am angry that I am even being asked questions about whether we would wish to be linked with them. Yet another cheap shot to deal with from the media.”
A Ukip Euro MP was branded ‘crass, ignorant and insensitive’ yesterday after he joked about encouraging jihadists to blow up a building that spoils his view.
Steven Woolfe said that if ISIS terrorists ever came to the picturesque city of Chester he would ask them to destroy a newly-built NHS centre near his home.
The 46-year-old, who was elected an MEP for North West England in May, told a local newspaper: ‘If you had Ukip policy on planning it would never have got through.
‘My view of the lovely cathedral, one of the most beautiful buildings in England, is now blocked. As a joke, if ISIS came in I would be saying that’s the first building you can get, please. Just move it so I can have my vision back.’
The extreme Islamist group ISIS has been engaged in a series of horrific massacres across Iraq and Syria since early 2013.
Bob Thompson, the Lib Dem’s parliamentary candidate in Chester, said the comment spoke volumes about the character of Ukip. He added: ‘At a time of serious terrorist activity in various parts of the world … Ukip inviting a terrorist organisation like ISIS to destroy a building in our city is crass, ignorant and insensitive.’
Mr Woolfe, a former barrister who is the party’s Migration and Financial Affairs spokesman, later apologised, saying: ‘The devastating and worrying violence in the Middle East is something I am well aware of and which I have commented on on many occasions. The issues and death are no laughing matter.
‘The joke was to identify an ugly building in Chester which has altered the beautiful historical views and surrounding architectural context.’
Mr Woolfe, 46, said: ‘I simply used hyperbole which is a common method in northern comedy.
‘I didn’t think for a moment this would be regarded as something I actually wished for or advocated. In future I shall be more circumspect and just stick to professional language.’
However, agreeing with him about the NHS building, Mr Thompson said it was a ‘poor design which does no favours for our city.’
The building is described as a super-surgery which will amalgamate a number of GP surgeries in the area, something which has angered residents.
Solihull politician will appear before magistrates in Birmingham to face allegations over travel expenses
Former West Midlands MEP Nikki Sinclaire is set to appear in court accused of making false expenses claims and money laundering following a lengthy police investigation.
Ms Sinclaire is due to appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court on 17 September to face allegations that she made false and dishonest submissions for travelling expenses and transferred the proceeds of fraud through a bank account in her name.
The offences are alleged to have taken place between October 2009 and July 2010 when Ms Sinclaire was a serving Member of the European Parliament.
The 45-year-old, of Velsheda Road, Shirley, was originally arrested on in February 2012 and has since been on police bail. Three other members of the public were also arrested but will face no further action.
Throughout the investigation West Midlands Police has been working jointly with officers from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).
Simon Orme, lawyer with the Crown Prosecution Service special crime division, said: “The CPS has authorised West Midlands Police to charge Ms Nicole Sinclaire, former MEP for the West Midlands, with the offences of money laundering and misconduct in public office.
“It is alleged that between October 2009 and July 2010, whilst serving as an MEP, Ms Sinclaire used funds paid into her bank account by the European Parliament in respect of false travelling expenses claims.
“Ms Sinclaire has also been charged with Misconduct in a Public Office with regard to her actions.
“The decision to prosecute was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We have determined that there is a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.
“Criminal proceedings have now commenced and Ms Sinclaire has the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”
When contacted by the Mail Ms Sinclaire said: “That’s the first I’ve heard about money laundering. The charge is misconduct in a public office.
“I will make a comment at a later time.”
The ex-MEP lost her seat in the May elections for the European parliament.
She was elected MEP in June 2009 as a UKIP candidate but later resigned from the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group in which UKIP is part of in the European Parliament, citing the alleged extreme right-wing views of some of the group’s members.
Subsequently Sinclaire sat as an Independent MEP from January 2010 until in September 2012 she set up the We Demand a Referendum party.
Although mainly known for her Eurosceptic views, Sinclaire has campaigned on other issues affecting West Midlands people, from jobs and the environment to human rights.