NEWPORT’S branch of UKIP appeared in turmoil at the weekend as their chairman appealed for help to “rid this branch of EDL sympathisers”.
Mike Chaffin posted on the branch’s Facebook page: “Not in my name, not in my party and not in my town!”
He pointed readers to comments made by the Newport East parliamentary candidate Donald Grewar on the EDL Facebook page and BNP website.
Mr Grewar responded to an EDL post warning of ‘no surrender to militant Islam or political correctness’ with the comment: “Thus sais it all… the mood of the nation… well done EDL” [sic].
And he said in response to an article on the BNP website about gay marriage: “Well said Richtofen…. sadly this will all come to fruition in the very near future. We need to resist and stand our ground.”
Mr Chaffin asked party members: “Do you consider someone who both praises the English Defence League and posts on the British National Party’s own website to be a suitable candidate?”
He revealed he had been asked to stand down as Chairman and allow two others to take over the branch.
A rival Newport UKIP Facebook page appeared to have been set up this month, with minutes from a meeting on January 23.
In a post to the new page, Andy Byers claimed Mike Chaffin “will be resigning as Chairman of the Newport Branch”.
He said the committee had nominated James Peterson to stand as temporary Chairman until an AGM on February 23.
But after this had been posted, Mr Chaffin continued to refer to himself as chairman on the initial Facebook page.
Mr Chaffin also proposed an annual general meeting to deal with the issues.
He said that people “who even flirt” with these parties “should be banished and those who help or collude with them named,” he added.
He called for such party members “to take their views to a party more closely aligned with their morals.”
His post ended: “If we tolerate this then what will be next?
Andrew Byers, named by Mr Chaffin in his post, said he was “surprised” by the allegations which he said were “completely without foundation”. He added it was impossible to be a member of both Ukip and one of the other parties mentioned.
He said: “So it’s a no comment at the moment. He appears to have an issue…he’s obviously quite disgruntled.”
A spokesman for Hope Not Hate said this was proof the party was run by “amateurs”.
Simon Cressy said: “There are extreme elements within UKIP, as can be demonstrated by some of the comments.
“He’s coming out saying he supports the EDL – he’s not the right candidate to represent the good people of Newport East.
“We would call on UKIP to remove Donald Grewar and any other person that has made extremist comments.”
Donald Grewar has been approached for comment.
A UKIP spokesman said: “UKIP takes all complaints and concerns seriously and fully investigates all issues brought to our attention. Party members living in Newport recently raised some concerns with the party through our internal procedures and the party acted swiftly in ordering an investigation into these matters. When the full facts become known we will release a full statement on our website.”
South Wales Argus