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UKIP candidate says sorry for gay slurs and 'peasant' remarks

Kerry Smith during council elections in Basildon last year Credit: PA

A prominent Ukip general election candidate has apologised for making a string of offensive remarks.

Kerry Smith, a member of both Essex County Council and Basildon District Council, was forced to issue a statement just days after being reinstated as the party's would-be MP in one of its top target seats.

He suggested that he had been under great stress at the time of the comments and taking strong pain killers.

In recordings of phone calls obtained by the Mail on Sunday, Mr Smith is said to have mocked gay party members as "poofters", joked about shooting people from Chigwell in a "peasant hunt" and referred to someone as a "Chinky bird".

"I wish to issue a wholehearted and unreserved apology to those I have offended within the party and anyone else," he said after his words - which he said were from two-and-half years ago - were made public.

In a bid to explain his behaviour he noted that "at the time of this recording I was considering my resignation due to major management changes which I have since discovered I completely misread and misunderstood".

"For the record I was also on a strong morphine based prescription medication for a back injury."

Kerry Smith (centre) with UKIP colleagues in Basildon last year Credit: PA

He also accepted that claims he made in the calls about party leader Nigel Farage and other senior figures were "completely wrong" and "fuelled by frustrations at the time".

Mr Smith was deselected as the candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock in October - with Neil Hamilton, the former Tory minister who is now Ukip's deputy chairman, the most prominent of those in the frame to take the nomination.

But Mr Hamilton ended up endorsing the Essex county councillor in his hustings speech after Mr Smith was reinstated - leading the ex-Conservative to lash out at party insiders over a "dirty tricks" campaign being run against him.

His tirade against the "cancer at the heart of Ukip" came after a letter from the party's finance committee about his expenses claims was leaked.

Mr Hamilton called for the party's national executive committee (NEC) to take action against those involved in the "black arts of selective briefing, misrepresentation and outright lies".


'Bedroom tax' hits vulnerable families

The so-called bedroom tax has been one of the coalition's most controversial measures. The Government insists the under-occupancy surcharge is freeing up council accommodation for those who most need it.

But critics say it's forcing vulnerable families into debt. Now, Brighton and Hove Council is encouraging those affected to swap their properties. Malcolm Shaw reports.

Chancellor's boost for air ambulance

The economy's growing, jobs are being created, unemployment's set to fall, and inflation's on the way down. Lots of reasons to be cheerful according to the Chancellor.

George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement - the last of this Parliament - to a packed House of Commons - at lunchtime today.

And he had good news too for the Kent, Surrey and Sussex air ambulance. He gave £7.5 million extra support for air ambulances in the Westcountry and in our region.

At the moment, Air Ambulance charities cannot claim VAT back on their work, but today's news means they will all be able to apply for VAT refunds from next April.

Phil Hornby has been gauging reaction to the statement.

Police given more time to question 'terror suspects'

Police have been given more time to question five terror suspects, three of them arrested in Dover.

Two of the men, aged 33 and 43, were arrested in Dover at 11.30pm on Sunday by Scotland Yard anti-terror officers with armed support officers and Kent Police, while a 28-year-old man was arrested at the same port on Monday morning.

Under the same operation, two men, aged 24 and 40, were arrested on Monday in east London. All five are being held on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

Police are also carrying out searches at two addresses in North Wales as part of the investigation.


Isle of Wight set to lose 150 council jobs

The Isle of Wight Council has begun a consultation with staff over potential redundancies in the coming year. Around 150 jobs could go between now and the end of March 2016.

Because of a reduction in government funding and increased costs, the council says it needs to reduce its net spend by £13.5 million in the next financial year.

The council says it needs needs to 'look radically' at different ways of delivering services and allocating its resources to essential services.

Three suspected terrorists stopped in Dover

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command have arrested five men on suspicion of commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

Officers from the MPS Counter Terrorism Command, supported by officers from Kent police and the MPS Specialist Firearms Command stopped a vehicle going outbound at Dover port at 23:30hrs on Sunday 30th November.

A 33-year-old man and a 43-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the Commission, Preparation or Instigation of acts of Terrorism. A 37-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of people trafficking offences.

A further 12 men and one woman, who were stopped in the same vehicle, were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences by Immigration Enforcement officers.

Today, Monday 1st December, a 24 year-old man and a 40-year-old man were arrested in east London on suspicion of being concerned in the Commission, Preparation or Instigation of acts of Terrorism.

At approximately 08:30hrs today a 28-year-old man was arrested at Dover port on suspicion of being concerned in the Commission, Preparation or Instigation of acts of Terrorism.

All been taken to a central London police station where they remain in custody.

Four addresses in east London and one in south London are being searched today as part of the investigation.

This operation is not in response to any immediate threat.

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