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  1. National

Farage: Ukip was increasingly alarmed over Bashir

Nigel Farage speaking on the Andrew Marr Show today. Credit: BBC/Andrew Marr Show

Nigel Farage says Ukip was becoming "increasingly alarmed" by MEP Amjad Bashir's behaviour in the months leading up to his defection to the Conservatives.

Speaking on BBC's The Andrew Marr Show, the Ukip leader said there was "quite strong documentary evidence" relating to what the party calls "unanswered questions" over employment practices at his business.

He also accused the MEP of "continuing associations with political extremists from Pakistan despite us saying please, please keep away", and said he was surprised that the Conservatives had accepted him

Bashir has denied any wrongdoing in relation to the allegations, and says Ukip's claims are a "desperate attempt" to smear him.

  1. National

Amjad Bashir: Ukip suspension a 'desperate smear attempt'

Former senior Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir dismissed his former party's move as a 'desperate attempt' to smear him Credit: PA

Former Ukip MEP Amjad Bashi, who has defected to the Conservative Party, has dismissed his former party's claim that it suspended him.

He called it a "desperate attempt" to smear him to distract from the news of his decision to defect and insisted there was "not a shred of truth" to the claims.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who will be questioned about the defection on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show, said: "Ukip has suspended Amjad Bashir MEP pending further investigations into unanswered financial and employment questions."

A Ukip source said Mr Bashir, who was Ukip's communities spokesman, had been aware for some time that he was being investigated and suggested that the imminent suspension was the reason for his defection.

But Mr Bashir said Ukip's reaction when the party found out he intended to defect "sums up what is wrong with them".

"They made a crude attempt to smear me with false allegations of irregularities in the recruitment of Asian members in Bradford," he said, writing in The Mail on Sunday. "There is not a shred of truth in any of the claims but it has made me more convinced than ever that I made the right decision."

Mr Bashir also said he had "experienced racism in Ukip".

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Bantams praise 'classy' Mourinho

A dressing room visit from Jose Mourinho was the "icing on the cake" for Bradford goalkeeper Ben Williams after the Bantams' astounding 4-2 comeback win over Chelsea in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Bantams praise 'classy' Mourinho Credit: Press Association

League One Bradford were 2-0 down in their fourth-round tie at Stamford Bridge after goals from Gary Cahill and Ramires for the Premier League leaders.

However, a strike before half-time from Jon Stead followed by goals from Filipe Morais and Andy Halliday put the Bantams ahead before Mark Yeates confirmed their progress in injury time.

Mourinho admitted he was "ashamed" and "embarrassed" after the defeat, but the Portuguese was keen to congratulate the Bradford players after the match.

And for Williams, the humility shown by Mourinho added to what was already an incredible day.

"It was fantastic. The scenes, the look on everyone's faces was amazing, something which will live long in the memory,"

"The fans were amazing and after that Mourinho came into the dressing room and shook everyone's hand and congratulated us, that was a surreal moment as well.

"In he walked and the celebrations stopped. This figure waltzed into the dressing room. He was very classy, very humble, very respectful - it was the icing on the cake."

Bradford looked to be heading out of the competition after conceding two first-half goals, but Williams believes the combination of sticking to their game plan and perhaps some complacency from Chelsea contributed to their comeback.

"Once you go 2-0 down it was a case of seeing it out and sticking to the game plan and the goal before half-time gave us a real lift," he said.

"We had a way of playing and the boys executed that fantastically well.

"At 2-0 at home everything is in Chelsea's favour, maybe there was an element of taking their foot off the gas.

"It's the FA Cup - it's a fantastic leveller and you have always got a chance if you remain in the game. Take nothing away from Bradford, the goals we scored were fantastic."

  1. Tyne Tees

Elderly woman dies in house fire

An elderly woman has died after a house fire in a bungalow.

Firefighters were called to the house, which is between the villages of Barninham and Newsham, near Richmond, at about 10:30am.

They are now investigating what caused the fire and working to contact the relatives of the woman who died.

Inspector Ian Sirrell, from North Yorkshire Police, said: "The cause of the fire is being investigated by fire investigators, supported by specially-trained personnel.

"Unfortunately, the elderly resident of the property has died at the scene.

"We are working with colleagues in neighbouring forces to locate and inform family members."

  1. National

Baroness Warsi says Government is 'suspicious of Muslims'

The Government views growing numbers of Muslim organisations and individuals with suspicion, Baroness Warsi has said Credit: PA

Baroness Warsi has accused the Government of having a policy of "non-engagement" towards Muslims and claimed that it views Muslim organisations and individuals with suspicion.

The former Conservative Party Chair told The Observer that a "failure" to develop a friendship with the three-million strong community in Britain has led to a very real lack of trust.

She addressed the controversial letter sent to mosques across England earlier this month urging Muslim leaders to prevent young people becoming radicalised in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

"It's no surprise there is a trust deficit, a questioning of motive to a letter sent with the best of intentions," she said. "For too many, the hand of friendship felt like an admonitory finger that was once again pointing at Britain's Muslims."

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Conservative MEPs welcome Bashir defection

The defection of Amjad Bashir's to the Conservatives has been welcomed by his new colleagues in Brussels.

Ashley Fox, leader of the Tory MEPs, said:

I am a great admirer of Amjad. He is a straightforward, down-to-earth character and he has an energetic and practical approach to politics. Having seen Ukip close up, he knows they cannot deliver anything the British people want or need. Amjad sees that only the Conservatives can deliver reform, renegotiation and a referendum in Europe and he will be joining me and my colleagues in campaigning hard to return David Cameron to Number 10 in May.

– Ashley Fox, MEP

Syed Kamall, leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament, added:

Like us, Amjad believes in genuine equality of opportunity and the right of people to go just as far as their talent and hard work will take them. He is a natural Conservative and I am delighted that he is back where he belongs.

– Syed Kamall, MEP

Labour MP blasts 'revolving door' between Ukip and Tories

A Labour MP has criticised the "revolving door between Ukip and the Tories" and says neither party can be trusted after Amjad Bashir's defection.

The Yorkshire MEP says he swapped Farage's party for the Conservatives, but Ukip claim he has been suspended.

Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister Without Portfolio, said

This latest defection shows more than ever there is a revolving door between Ukip and the Tories. Conservative MPs defect to Ukip and Ukip MEPs flee back the other way when Nigel Farage says they have questions to answer. Ukip and Tories share policies as well as people - both parties want to increase NHS privatisation and cut taxes for those at the very top. All that’s clear is that neither party can be trusted to stand up for hardworking families.

– Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister Without Portfolio
  1. National

Bashir: Ukip has become party of ruthless self-interest

Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir has heavily criticised his former party colleagues. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir, who was suspended by the party and defected to the Conservatives, has heavily criticised his former Ukip colleagues.

Speaking in the Telegraph Mr Bashir said Ukip had become a "party of ruthless self-interest", was "pretty amateur" and had a "ridiculous" lack of policies.

He also said the party was "delusional" about its chances of winning seats in May.

After almost three years as a party member, I realise that Ukip is more concerned with furthering its own interests as a political party than delivering for the British people.

– Amjad Bashir
  1. National

Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir defects to the Conservatives

Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir has defected to the Conservative party. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir, who was suspended by the party for "extremely serious" issues, has defected to the Conservatives.

Prime Minister David Cameron told the Telegraph he was "absolutely delighted" at the Yorkshire and Humber MEP's decision.

News of the defection emerged shortly after Ukip suspended the MEP, who was the party's communities spokesman, over allegations including "unanswered financial and employment questions".

A senior Conservative source dismissed the move as a "desperate attempt" to play down the impact of Mr Bashir's decision.

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