UKIP has been thrown into turmoil with a series of members quitting over its county organiser’s criminal past.
The trouble flared over the election of Portsmouth South chairman Paul Lovegrove on January 12.
He has a criminal record with convictions for violent crimes – and he has served two prison sentences.
Fareham’s prospective parliamentary candidate Don Jerrard left his campaign earlier this week.
Portsmouth city councillor Paul Godier and former Fareham and Gosport chairman Bob Ingram have also quit the party.
But Ukip leader Nigel Farage said he is standing by Mr Lovegrove, whose last prison sentence was in 2005.
Mr Farage said: ‘We believe that people deserve a second chance in life.
‘Mr Lovegrove may have fallen off the rails earlier in his life but he is now totally reformed and we are standing by him 100 per cent. We knew about his past.
‘With any political party, having people from all walks of life is a bonus.
After all you can’t have every party full of Oxbridge graduates.’
Mr Lovegrove’s past was brought to the fore by repeated outbursts at meetings from Fareham prospective parliamentary candidate Mr Jerrard, who has since quit his campaign due to the situation.
He said that he believed more people will walk out from the branch when they discover the extent of Mr Lovegrove’s convictions. He said: ‘I won’t have anything to do with them. It is a shambles.’
Mr Jerrard said senior figures in Ukip had still not spoken to him.
He added: ‘They are in turmoil because they don’t know what to do.
‘They have not spoken to the people on the ground, the people that have made these complaints.
‘They are a total shambles, all of their own making.’
Mr Lovegrove has spoken openly about his criminal convictions, which he said he never hid from the party.
He said: ‘Honesty gets you a long way. People don’t like it. They find it scary.
‘I am everything they despise as I can talk from experience.
‘I have lived through all of these things. Who can represent us? It’s got to be one of us.
‘It is a shame they are trying to drag someone down who is a real son of this city.
‘Ukip have put their money where their mouth is by supporting me.’
Mr Jerrard is not alone in his complaint, with Charles Dickens ward councillor Mr Godier leaving Ukip earlier this month giving Mr Lovegrove’s behaviour as the main reason.
Mr Ingram, who until recently was the chairman of Fareham and Gosport branch of Ukip, quit over the way the complaints were handled.
But other Ukip members have been vocal in their support for Mr Lovegrove.
Steve Harris, Ukip’s parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South, said: ‘Paul is a hard-working lad.
‘He has had problems in the past, but he has paid his dues and on he is going.’
Steve Hastings, Portsmouth’s deputy Ukip group leader, also said he supported Mr Lovegrove.
Meanwhile, Mr Farage said this was not going to affect the Portsmouth campaign.
He said: ‘I don’t think the likes or dislikes of one person will affect how tens of thousands of people will vote.
‘You get divisions in all political parties but it does not affect what we stand for and we stand for the normal working class person.
‘We are more united, focused and more able to get on with the job.’
‘I have learnt from my mistakes in the past’
HE is the man at the centre of a series of political rows which have seen key Ukip members quit the party.
But Paul Lovegrove, the chairman of Portsmouth South Ukip and Hampshire organiser, says his criminal past gives him the experience to be able to talk competently on subjects such as prison reform and the justice system.
Mr Lovegrove has served two prison sentences – one for wounding with intent in 1996 and one for actual bodily harm in 2000.
After leaving the Royal Navy, he got into trouble when a family feud ended up with him grabbing a bread knife from the kitchen and slashing a man’s face in a fight.
For this offence he was given a two-year sentence, of which he served a year. A few years later, after a string of criminal convictions for drug possession, he tried to turn his life around and went to college. During this time he got into a fight with a man and absconded to Spain to avoid a charge of actual bodily harm.
Mr Lovegrove, now 43, lived on the Costa Del Sol for five years, where he met his ex partner. They had two children and in 2005 they returned to England.
A few months later, following the breakdown of his relationship, he claims he was beaten up in Guildford.
An allegation of sexual assault at knifepoint against him followed. He was cleared of at trial.
But Mr Lovegrove was sent back to prison for a year for the previous actual bodily harm charge.
After coming out of prison in 2008, he decided to channel his energies into the community and he ran a music festival in aid of Oxfam on Castle Field in Southsea.
Through music he was introduced to politics and started to take an interest in helping shape the way the city is run.
He said: ‘I am a product of this country they claim to govern so well. I have lived everything, much the same as everybody else – not living just surviving. It has not been pleasant. I am involved with politics but I am in this for the right reasons.
‘I have learnt from my mistakes – they happened 10 and 20 years ago and if we have never made any mistakes to learn by then how can we lead?’
Fourteen months ago he joined Ukip, rising quickly to Portsmouth South chairman and elected Hampshire organiser on January 12. The party won six seats at last May’s local elections, something he attributes to the party taking on ordinary people.
He said: ‘I have had the pleasure and pain of life experiences which I hope to pass on through politics. I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth, like most people. The people in politics come from a different world. They don’t have any idea.’
Ukip has suspended its four Southend councillors… because they disowned the party’s Parliamentary candidate.
The anti-EU party has confirmed that James Moyies, Tino Callaghan, Lawrence Davies, and Lee Burling, have had their party membership suspended.
An email to all four of them says they cannot leaflet, campaign, and canvass under the Ukip banner, and must not wear any clothing that bears the anti-EU propaganda.
All four will also not be allowed in Ukip branch meetings or AGMs.
The decision was taken after the group voted unanimously to kick out Parliamentary candidate Floyd Waterworth from their group on Southend Council.
Steve Crowther, Ukip’s national chairman, said: “UKIP has suspended Cllrs James Moyies, Tino Callaghan, Lawrence Davies and Lee Burling from Party activities, following their expulsion of Cllr Floyd Waterworth from their Group.
“The Party considers that the expulsion was unnecessarily damaging to Mr Waterworth’s campaign as the UKIP candidate for Southend East & Rochford. Mr Waterworth has the Party’s full backing as the candidate, and will now be able to focus all his efforts on winning the election in May.”
Ukip refused to confirm whether the suspensions are indefinite or not, or whether the group would be allowed to identify as Ukip councillors at Southend Council.
As group leader, councillor Moyies was able to expel councillor Waterworth under Local Government Act legislation, but Ukip says this action was at odds with its policy.
Councillor Waterworth, who is vying for Southend East and Rochford in May, said:
Cllr Waterworth, UKIPs Parliamentary Candidate for Rochford and Southend East, said: “I knew nothing of this decision before it was made. It came as a total surprise to me.
“I believe, as does the National Party Chairman, that the Group failed to conduct the exclusion according to the rules and natural justice. To expel someone without their knowledge of, or participation in, the process, is not proper.
“The action was guaranteed to ensure negative publicity. That is not acceptable to the Party.
“However, our campaigning in the constituency is going well. Private polls show we are ahead of the Tories now.”
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
Ukip’s manifesto will set out plans to exclude foreign nationals from the right to buy their council houses, according to housing spokesman Andrew Charalambous
Ukip’s housing spokesman, who trousered a fortune renting houses to migrant tenants on benefits, pledged today that the party would exclude foreign nationals from the government’s Right To Buy scheme.
Multi-millionaire buy-to-let tycoon Andrew Charalambous made a chunk of his fortune renting out properties in areas of London with high migrant populations.
The party’s manifesto, due to be published at their Spring Conference at the end of February, will include a pledge to ban foreign nationals from buying council houses.
There would be an exception for those who have served in the armed forces.
Charalambous said: “Britain’s social housing stock is massively oversubscribed. It is neither sensible nor fair on British families on waiting lists for Right to Buy entitlements to apply to foreign nationals occupying council or housing association homes.
An investigation into Charalambous’ property firm Woodlands Estates Limited revealed he had received £745,315 in benefit cash through Haringey Council in 2013 – more than any other private landlord.
He admitted that many of his tenants were migrants – and that almost one in six of them had recently arrived in the UK.
Mr Charalambous’ Greek Cypriot father settled in the UK after fighting for Britain in World War II.
In a statement, he said: “We in UKIP want to create an immigration system that maximises the positive contribution migrants make to our economy and society. Allowing foreign nationals to buy scarce social housing does not accord with that principle and providing a discount when they do is even more of a nonsense.”
Charalambous defected from the Conservative Party in 2011, before making an unsuccessful bid to be the party’s first MP in the Feltham and Heston by election.
He had been a Tory activist since his early Teens, but left the party over differences on immigration, their handling of the NHS and resistance to his calls for St George’s Day to be made a national holiday.
Amjad Bashir describes Ukip as “pretty amateur” as he talks about his decision to switch parties.
I love this country and everything it stands for. England is in my blood – it’s my home, it’s where I made my livelihood, it’s where I raised my family, and it’s where I want future generations to thrive.
It’s the reason why, after a long career in business, I turned to the world of politics to campaign on issues I believe are necessary for the well-being of our great nation.
I wanted a referendum on Europe – to do away with all the bureaucracy and red tape stifling small businesses in the UK – and a controlled immigration system.
I joined Ukip thinking it was a movement dedicated to securing those goals. But I was wrong.
After almost three years as a party member – and seven months as MEP for Yorkshire and Humber – I realise that Ukip is more concerned with furthering its own interests as a political party, than delivering for the British people.
I choose the Conservatives. Not because I’ve changed my mind about Europe and immigration. I haven’t. But because only the Conservative Party can achieve an in/out referendum on Europe and a fair immigration system that works for Britain.
I’ve seen Ukip both at home, and abroad, and I’m sorry to say they’re pretty amateur. In the European Parliament, some of their MEPs think it’s acceptable to shout and fool around.
They don’t want to engage, they just want to ridicule.
But the joke’s on the British taxpayers who are forking out for their MEPs’ £80,000 salaries and getting nothing in return.
Ukip MEPs refuse to acknowledge Europe, so instead they let crucial votes that are harmful to British interests go unchallenged.
This happens day in, day out. It’s not right and it’s not fair.
Ukip haven’t properly thought through the implications of Brexit. There are of course several positive reasons for coming out of Europe. But I’m a pragmatist. Whichever side of the argument you’re on, you have to weigh up all the options.
Ukip made their minds up a long time ago that they wanted out no matter what. Even if they were offered endless supplies of gold from Europe they’d refuse it.
The truth is, Ukip would sooner risk the whole world looking on us as little Englanders than have a grown up debate about Europe.
As for Ukip’s policy, I’ve yet to see it. As their communities spokesman, I recently asked the man who’d been in charge of drawing up Ukip’s general election manifesto for the last year and a half: what policies do you have for me?
He brought out a page of A4 with about three lines on it. For a man on £60,000 a year to produce that is ridiculous. And I’m not the only person in the party who felt that way.
The problem with Ukip is that they think they’re a major party, when they’re not.
They think they’ll sweep up dozens of seats in May, but that’s delusional.
What they are in very real danger of doing, however, is making a big enough dent in the Conservative vote to let Labour in. And that would deny the British people a referendum.
Ukip have become so obsessed with what’s best for them as opposed to what’s good for the country that they’re actually willing to let this happen. This is what I find so galling.
I came to Ukip for the good of this country. I believe there’s a genuine question to be asked – whether we stay in or out of Europe.
I believe we need a referendum. I think Ukip has done its job in bringing that agenda to centre-stage. It’s a terrific achievement.
But now it’s clear that the appetite for political power has swayed them off course.
Where Ukip once campaigned in the interests of the British people, they have now become the party of ruthless self-interest.
My decision to switch my allegiance to the Conservative Party is not intended to cause any embarrassment for Ukip.
This is a principled decision out of deeply held beliefs for the good of this country.
Only the Conservative Party and the leadership of David Cameron will deliver a referendum on Europe and can offer strong immigration controls.
A vote for Ukip will only deliver a Labour Government, which will deny people a say on Europe and control over our borders.
Months away from the most critical general election of our generation, I feel I must do right by my country and support the Conservatives’ plan to secure a better future for Britain.
Nigel Farage is likely finding dry January pretty tough going.
This morning Ukip has been hit by a high-profile defection and a scandal involving one of their senior officials, who reportedly said they were a party that stood up for “bigots”.
Ukip Yorkshire and the Humber MEP Amjad Bashir announced his defection to the Conservative party on Saturday after meeting with David Cameron the previous day. Bashir claimed Ukip had a “ridiculous” lack of policies and were “pretty amateur”. But they said he had been “suspended” pending investigations into “serious” financial concerns – something Bashir told the BBC were “dirty tricks to try and discredit me”.
Separately the Sunday Times reported the party’s general secretary Matthew Richardson had called Ukip supporters bigots when asked about racist outbursts from some of the party’s candidates.
“I’ve said before, people talk about Ukip being bigots. There are hundreds of thousands of bigots in the United Kingdom and they too deserve representation,” he allegedly said in a meeting last month.
The paper notes Richardson was ironically appointed to Ukip in 2013 to help “put an end to the party’s series of public- relations gaffes and to prevent ‘bad stuff’ about Ukip from making it into the media”.
Richardson told the Sunday Times he had been quoting the late Tory MP Eric Forth, who once said “all this sucking up to minorities is ridiculous; there are millions of people in this country who are white, Anglo-Saxon and bigoted and they need to be represented”.
Richardson added: “This was clearly lighthearted harmless banter in the pub and does not reflect any seriously held belief.”
As well as his “bigot” comments, Sunday Mirror carries a video of Richardson’s 2010 speech to the Young America’s Foundation Conservative Student Conference in Washington where he called the NHS the heart of the “Reichstag bunker of socialism” that was Britain. At a separate speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in the same year he was recording saying it was the “biggest waste of money in the United Kingdom”.
A Ukip spokesperson said of Richardson: “He is a very talented barrister and does his job extremely well. He is not involved with the party’s press operation.” Referring to his NHS comments, they said he was “specifically talking about the growth of middle management which had not reflected a growth in health outcomes”.
Ukip is facing embarrassment after a senior official claimed the party should stand up for “bigots” and claimed that the NHS was the “biggest waste of money in the UK”. The remarks were made by Matthew Richardson, the party’s secretary and a member of its national executive council.
According to the Sunday Times, Richardson told a meeting last month: “I’ve said before, people talk about Ukip being bigots. There are hundreds of thousands of bigots in the United Kingdom and they deserve representation.”
He also joked about party leader Nigel Farage, saying: “He’s a Kent man. Well, sounds like Kent, anyway.” Richardson added that the Ukip leader would “have to be a moron” to put the party’s plan for a turnover tax for businesses in its manifesto.
He later insisted the comments were “clearly light-hearted harmless banter in the pub” and did “not reflect any seriously held belief”. He added: “I don’t recall the conversation taking place, but some of the words attributed to me are actually a quote from the late [Tory MP] Eric Forth, which, if they were spoken at all, would have been on a discussion about him.
“None of this is reflective of my own views or those of the party, and I am sure any reader would recognise the difference between a formal party position and the sort of jag lots of people have with their mates while having a drink.”
Meanwhile, footage from 2010 of Richardson attacking the health service at events in the US were released by Labour. Speaking at the Young America’s Foundation conference in Washington, he said: “When I was younger, a trillion was an astronomic number. Now when I look at our national deficits, and your national deficits, actually it is an economic number.
“A number I couldn’t possible imagine when I was younger is now the amount of money that is owed by my country, and soon more than that by your country, to other countries, paying for wasteful socialist programmes. And of course at the heart of this, the Reichstag bunker of socialism, is the National Health Service.”
At the Conservative political action conference in the same year he said: “This socialist government wastes money like you can’t imagine. They have started doing every wasteful scheme under the sun … The biggest waste of money of course in the United Kingdom is the NHS, the National Health Service.”
The release of the footage signals a more aggressive approach towards Ukip from Labour, which faces losing ground to Farage’s party in some of its northern heartlands – as shown in the Heywood and Middleton by-election in October, where Ed Miliband’s party managed only a narrow victory.
Richardson was reportedly appointed last year to help prevent “bad stuff” about the party making it into the media, but Ukip insisted that he was not involved with the press operation.
Labour’s Jon Trickett, shadow minister without portfolio, said: “Either Nigel Farage supports this, or Mr Richardson cannot stay in post. Nigel Farage cannot simultaneously defend these comments and claim that his party stands for the NHS free at the point of use.
“The man chosen by Nigel Farage to control Ukip’s image has compared the NHS to Hitler’s Nazi bunker. This is Ukip’s real agenda on the NHS. Today Labour is shining a light on Nigel Farage and his party’s true views on the future of the NHS. They claim to defend the service we cherish, but they want to dismantle its foundations.
“Ukip can no longer attempt to fool people. They are a party of Tory people, Tory money and they want to extend the worst Tory policies, which would have horrific effects on working people.”
A Ukip spokeswoman played down the significance of Richardson’s comments, pointing out that he was not an elected representative or party spokesman. “He is a very talented barrister and does his job extremely well. He is not involved with the party’s press operation.”