UKIP was engulfed in a new racism row today after the Evening Standard unearthed evidence of its London election candidates using offensive language.
James Silverfox, an official Ukip candidate in Barking & Dagenham, made the comment “How did I know he is Nigerian?” on a news story about a fraudster plundering the bank account of a murdered British engineer. Challenged by the Standard, he denied the remark was racist.
Gary Port, standing for Ukip in Greenwich, admitted his Facebook page shows a “like” for a group devoted to the far-Right British National Party. Approached by the Standard, the removal man said: “I don’t think it’s that clear whether the BNP are racist…”
Matt Pavey, standing for Ukip in Lewisham, suggested that the case of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence had received disproportionate amounts of media attention compared with two killings of local white women. He told the Standard he had not intended to cause offence and denied being racist.
Heino Vockrodt, standing in Brent for Ukip, described members of Right-wing protest group the English Defence League — which has been criticised for attracting hooligans to demonstrations staged in mixed-race areas — as “honest normal people” .
An investigation by the Standard found a tweet in the name of another Ukip candidate who implied that “multiracial” schools had inferior results. The new row for Nigel Farage’s anti-Europe party comes days after Enfield candidate William Henwood resigned over tweets that said comedian Lenny Henry should emigrate to a “black country” and compared Islam to the Third Reich.
Trevor Phillips, the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, commented: “I am shocked that Ukip is prepared to have people with these views as their candidates.
“Anybody who wants to stand for office in London must know that comments like these are not acceptable in a cosmopolitan city.”
After being passed details of comments apparently made by seven Ukip candidates in London, a Ukip spokesman said each would be examined for possible disciplinary action: “Ukip is a non-racist, non-sectarian party and all candidates and members are expected to uphold these values. Where evidence is produced to indicate a breach it will be considered at the earliest opportunity by the National Executive Committee.”
But Mr Farage’s election campaign continues to be dogged by controversial or offensive views held by senior party figures and council candidates.
A major Ukip donor has claimed that rape cannot exist within a marriage. Demetri Marchessini said: “If you make love on Friday and make love Sunday, you can’t say Saturday is rape.”
A senior Ukip MEP was exposed today for once claiming homosexuality was “abnormal and undesirable”. Roger Helmer, 70, made the claims in 2000 while a Conservative. In a statement on his website, Mr Helmer said he was “deeply shocked” by today’s story, and insisted it was “morally acceptable to prefer heterosexuality over homosexuality, or vice versa”.
The candidates and their views
Candidate for Gascoigne ward, Barking and Dagenham
The former soldier, 66, made the comment “How did I know he is Nigerian?” on a link to a news story about fraudsters who plundered the bank account of a murdered Briton. But he told the Standard he was unrepentant about branding Nigerians as fraudsters. He said: “I was the victim of an online banking fraud and lost hundreds of pounds. I was told that the fraud was carried out by a Nigerian gang operating out of a house in Streatham.
“They [Nigerians] are well known for this type of crime and I am speaking out as a victim. I have not met any [Nigerians] that I know of but I would be wary of doing business with them after what I have been through.” But he flatly denied he was a racist, saying: “My wife is Asian and my daughter’s partner is from the West Indies and we get on well. How can I be a racist? I have two grandchildren who are black and two who are white … You won’t find any Nazi symbols in my flat!”
Candidate for Whitefoot ward, Lewisham
On his Twitter account, @WhitefootUKIP, he spoke out about allegations of police corruption in the case of murdered black London teenager Stephen Lawrence. He recalled two unsolved murders of white women and tweeted: “Does anyone remember the name Jean Bradley murder unsolved in Acton, London in 1993. Anyone looking for corruption here? No thought not.” Challenged by the Standard he said: “I did not mean to be offensive or malicious … I just wanted to highlight that some cases get overlooked. The way it was interpreted caused offence. I have nothing against the Lawrence family and am not a racist.”
Candidate for Charlton ward, Greenwich
On Facebook, he lists a page about the BNP as “liked”. He also “liked” a page for a group called the “South East Alliance” which contains anti-Islam material, such as an image claiming that 96 per cent of rapes in the UK are committed by Muslims.
Mr Port, a 35-year-old removal man, said of the BNP page: “I ‘liked’ it, not to join in, but to see what other groups and parties were doing.
“It’s like a news feed, so I just ‘liked’ it to get information on my own page because it brings up what issues other people are dealing with, it wasn’t to say I like it. It was a few years ago now, before I joined Ukip.”
Asked if he considered the BNP to be a racist party, he said: “What do you class as racist nowadays? At what point is something racist in this day and age with all the cultures? Obviously some parties are pushing that issue more than others.”
He added: “I don’t think it’s that clear whether the BNP are racist, from what I understand there was a big hype about it many years ago but I’m not sure what they’ve done about it.” But he added: “If I was racist I wouldn’t be doing the job I’m doing now. I do removals for council tenants and you could probably say the majority of them are ethnic. If I had a big problem with it, I wouldn’t be in that job.”
He said he wouldn’t “outright condemn” the “96.3 per cent of rapes in the UK are by Muslims” claim in a South East Alliance post because he would have to “look into the national figures”, but added: “I think personally that’s going to be far too high.”
He said both the Alliance and EDL are disaffected working-class groups, adding: “Like all groups you get some good and some non-good people.”
Candidate for Dudden Hill ward, Brent
He described members of the English Defence League, whose protests have triggered violent clashes, as “honest normal people”.
He stood by his views on the EDL when approached by the Standard. The commercial consultant, 52, who moved to the UK from Germany 18 years ago and is married to an Asian woman, said: “It appears to me that they [the EDL] are normal, hardworking people like builders.
“I do not agree with their policies but they do sometimes get unfair treatment. If anti-fascists go to their rallies and there is trouble they are always blamed. They get an unfair press sometimes I think. I have an Asian wife and am in no way racist. Ukip is not a racist party.”
One third of Britons believe that Ukip is a racist party, according to a new poll.
The survey, commissioned by ITV News and ComRes, probed the opinions of 2,052 British adults and found that 32 per cent of them think the party was racist.
Nearly the same number of respondents – 33 per cent – think the party is more honest than its rivals, but 38 per cent disagree.
Of those surveyed, 40 per cent believed that Ukip is not a racist party and 29 per cent said they did not know.
And when quizzed on whether they believe Ukip’s policies are sensible, Britons were left divided – 38 per cent think not and the same percentage believe the party does.
The poll also found that nearly half (44 per cent) of those who voted Conservative in 2010 are likely to agree with Ukip’s policies. 34 per cent would disagree.
Ukip has refuted suggestions that the party is racist. Last week, Nigel Farage hit back at claims the party’s latest poster campaign was racist by calling it a “hard-hitting reflection of reality experienced by millions of British people.”
Yesterday, William Henwood resigned as a member of the party after he suggested actor Lenny Henry should emigrate to a “black country”.
A spokesman for the party condemned the remarks and said his resignation was “mutually agreed”.
Ukip’s attempts to purge the party of members with controversial views have suffered a fresh setback after it emerged two council candidates have questioned whether Mo Farah is British and called for Islam to be banned.
Nigel Farage has spent the week insisting his party is not racist, and yesterday suspended two members for links to far-right groups.
But fresh comments have emerged from candidates in local elections on May 22 which cause further embarrassment to the party.
A UKIP council candidate queried whether Mo Farah was qualified to race for Team GB when he was an ‘African from Somalia’.
The jibe – made by David Wycherley, a Ukip council candidate for Walsall – came just hours after the runner seized the gold medal for the 10,000 metres at the 2012 London Games
The athlete, who grew up in London after fleeing his war-torn country – became a double Olympic champion for Team GB.
But Mr Wycherley queried whether he could be British, asking his Facebook friends to explain ‘how Mo Farah, an African from Somalia who trains in America, has won a Gold medal for Great Britain’.
In another Facebook post, Mr Wycherley, who is standing for the Rushall-Shelfield ward, joked about ‘starving Africans’ while complaining about his water bill.
It also emerged last night that Jackie Garnett, a Ukip candidate for the Royston South Ward in Oldham, suggested that the UK should ‘ban Islam and knock down all the mosques’ in a Facebook post.
A UKIP spokesman said that the party would investigate their posts, adding: ‘Ukip is a non-racist, non-sectarian party and all candidates and members are expected to uphold these values.
‘Where evidence is produced about individuals, it will be considered at the earliest opportunity by the national executive committee as part of an established disciplinary procedure.’
The row came just as another candidate, William Henwood who suggested comedian Lenny Henry should emigrate to a ‘black country’, quit his party membership.
Mr Henry had said there should be more people from ethnic minority backgrounds in the creative industries.
In response, Mr Henwood had told the BBC: ‘If black people come to this country and don’t like mixing with white people why are they here? If he (Henry) wants a lot of blacks around go and live in a black country.’
Ukip said that Mr Henwood’s remarks about Mr Henry ‘caused enormous offence and UKIP MEP candidate for the West Midlands Bill Etheridge spoke for many in the party with his strong condemnation’.
Ukip also suspended two unnamed members after it emerged that one had been a BNP member from 2005 until 2010 and another had given money to the English Defence League (EDL).
A Ukip source insisted that the men had a right to appeal which is why their identities were being kept secret.
He added that their links to the other parties had been uncovered by vetting procedures, adding: ‘We will be redoubling our efforts. It’s a tiny minority and we have to keep working hard to make sure the whole party’s reputation is not contaminated.’
Nigel Farage has banned anyone from taking up Ukip membership if they have links to the two extremist parties. The Ukip leader last night revealed he suspected that his party had been infiltrated and that ‘one or two people have joined Ukip with the intention of perhaps not doing it any good’.
‘I’m investigating that, looking at that as we speak,’ he told the BBC.
He has previously resisted sacking MEPs and councillors over controversial remarks.
Roger Helmer, a UKIP MEP, yesterday was forced on the defensive after saying people had as much right to dislike homosexuality as they did certain types of tea.
The politician, who has previously suggested people could have their sexuality ‘turned’ by psychiatrists, was asked by the Sun newspaper whether he stood by remarks that he found same sex relationships ‘distasteful if not viscerally repugnant’.
He said: ‘Different people have different tastes. You may tell me you don’t like Earl Grey tea. That may be a minority view but you are entitled not to like it if you don’t like it.’
A local election UKIP candidate has suggested that British comedian Lenny Henry should emigrate to a “black country”.
Enfield candidate William Henwood was responding to recent comments made by Henry that there was a poor representation of ethnic minorities on British television.
On his Twitter account, he tweeted: “He should emigrate to a black country. He does not have to live with whites.”
In a statement, UKIP insisted the party was “non-racist, non-sectarian” and that “any comments made by members that fail to uphold these values will be duly investigated and acted upon”.
Mr Henwood is not the only candidate to have extreme views revealed in the past week since the party’s manifesto was launched.
UKIP Camden candidate Magnus Nielsen claimed that 70% of UK mosques had been “taken over” by “fundamentalists”.
According to his Facebook page, he said: “Islam is organised crime under religious camouflage. Any Muslim who is not involved in organised crime is not a ‘true believer’, practising Islam as Mohammed commanded.”
And a UKIP member who appeared in the party’s latest election broadcast was suspended after allegedly expressing “repellent views”.
Andre Lampitt apparently posted racist and anti-Islamic remarks as well as inappropriate comments about Labour leader Ed Miliband on Twitter.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he was “very angry” that Mr Lampitt had been given a role in the broadcast.
Despite a bruising week of controversies, a poll suggests Mr Farage’s party has surged into the lead in the European election contest.
UKIP recorded 31% support in the YouGov survey for the Sunday Times, three points ahead of Labour, with the Conservatives trailing in third place with 19%.
Nigel Farage’s party moves to ban unauthorised use of Ukip logo after embarrassing string of gaffes
Nigel Farage is cracking down on Ukip supporters’ social media activity after a series of scandals over racist comments. The party has changed its constitution to prevent unauthorised use of the Ukip logo by supporters, members and officials, while Ukip’s chairman has warned those tempted to join Twitter: “My advice: just don’t.”
The move follows hugely embarrassing revelations about the publicly stated views of a host of Ukip European and local election candidates.
In one of the more notorious episodes, William Henwood, a Ukip candidate in Enfield, was exposed by this newspaper for tweeting the suggestion that Lenny Henry, who had recently lamented the lack of ethnic-minority faces on television, should emigrate to a “black country” and does “not have to live with whites”.
Andre Lampitt, the star of Ukip’s 2014 party election broadcast, was suspended for calling Ed Miliband “not British”, attacking “evil” Islam and saying Africans should “kill themselves”.
And just last week Ukip’s Kerry Smith, a prospective parliamentary candidate, resigned after recordings of him making homophobic and racist remarks were leaked. Smith was recorded describing gay people as “fucking disgusting old poofters” and a woman with a Chinese name as “chinky”.
On Friday, Farage threatened to escalate that row after describing the Essex councillor as a “rough diamond” and criticising what he called metropolitan snobbery against people from outside the capital using “colloquial” language. Challenged over Smith’s use of the word “chinky” to describe a Chinese person, Farage asked: “If you and your mates are going out for a Chinese, what would you say you were going for?”
However, Ukip’s national executive council has now passed strict new rules policing members’ social media activity and threatening immediate suspension for those who “embarrass” the party.
A copy of the new constitution, seen by the Observer, lays out “rules for online communication”, which include the diktat that “party members shall refrain from using the Ukip logo in terms of their online postings, including avatars, unless they have express written consent to do so from the party leader, the party chairman, the party secretary, the general secretary, the party director, the regional chairman or regional organiser for their region.”
In a recent edition of a Ukip members’ magazine, party chairman Steve Crowther wrote of social media: “The NEC has adopted a new set of rules for online communication to fill a notable hole in our code of discipline … My advice: just don’t. Remember life before you could delight the whole world with your every passing thought? It wasn’t so bad, was it? I have no Facebook page, Twitter account or Instagram thingy. It’s lovely.”
Duncan Cahill from the Hope not Hate campaign group said Farage’s problem was not that his candidates had previously been exposed for holding racist views but that the party continued to recruit “bigoted” people. He said: “Farage covering up the views of his candidates is not going to work, because day by day people are waking up to the sort of party that he runs. They are seeing through him.”
A spokesman for Ukip said the move had been made, in part, because imposters were using the Ukip logo on racist social media accounts in order to embarrass the party.
He said: “We have always been very relaxed in our approach to our brand. But as we grow we find that we have to be much more brand-conscious.
“It is well known that some agents provocateurs set up fake accounts and go to the press to tell them how terrible Ukip is. We need to enforce our right as the copyright holder of our own brand. The idea that this is somehow not entirely normal practice is absurd.