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Ukip members cleared over alleged electoral fraud

Two Ukip members have been cleared over any involvement in an alleged electoral fraud relating to council elections in Norfolk.

The men had been standing trial alongside Matthew Smith, the Norfolk County Council member for Gorleston St Andrews who had been selected to stand for parliament in the key target seat of Great Yarmouth at the next general election.

Fellow Ukip members Michael Monk and Daniel Thistlethwaite had both denied one charge of making a false statement in nomination papers. The charges relate to county council elections in the Yarmouth area in May 2013, when Smith stood for election and acted as Ukip's electoral agent.

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Labour: Video 'reflects Ukip's real agenda on NHS'

Labour has called for the sacking of Ukip's general secretary after a video was released yesterday showed him comparing the NHS to Hitler's Nazi bunker.

Matthew Richardson called the NHS the Credit: C-Span.org

The comments from Matthew Richardson - made when he was a member of the Conservative party - were condemned by shadow minister without portfolio Jon Trickett, who said they reflect "Ukip's real agenda on the NHS".

"Nigel Farage cannot simultaneously defend these comments and claim that his party stands for the NHS free at the point of use," he said.

Trickett added: "They claim to defend the service we cherish, but they want to dismantle its foundations."

Farage has denied that he wishes to privatise the NHS, and the party today announced plans to inject £3 billion into frontline services using money saved by leaving the European Union.

Farage slams 'most negative election campaign ever'

Nigel Farage has accused his political opponents and the press of running "the most negative general election campaign ever" following a series of claims about the party's candidates and members.

After Labour released a video of Ukip general secretary Matthew Richardson calling the NHS "a wasteful socialist programme", Farage told ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen that the major parties were trying to "damn" his party.

Richardson was also accused of saying that bigots "deserve representation", a comment the Ukip leader claims was simply an old joke.

"The fact that we get hear'say from gossip and jokes in pubs on the front page of newspapers says to me we are going into the most negative General Election ever," he said.

Bar EU migrants from referendum vote, says Farage

EU migrants living in Britain should not be allowed to vote in a referendum on Europe, Nigel Farage has said.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, the Ukip leader said his party could go into coalition with the Conservatives, as long as they offered an immediate referendum on EU membership under specific terms.

Speaking on BBC's The Andrew Marr Show, he said: "At the moment, there are four million or so EU citizens living in Britain that I do not think should be allowed to vote in that referendum."

During the interview, Farage also said his party would spend an additional £3 billion on frontline NHS services - using part of the £10 billion Ukip says it save by withdrawing from the EU.

The party says it also force migrants and tourists to pay for health insurance as a condition of entry, which it claims will save £2 billion of "wasted" money on "health tourism".

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.

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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".

'We speak for bigots,' Ukip senior official says

Matthew Richardson, the party's PR chief claimed the party should stand up for 'bigots' Credit: PA

Ukip is facing fresh controversy after a senior party official said that the party is proud to stand up for Britain's “hundreds of thousands of bigots,” The Sunday Times (£) reported.

The comments were made by the party's general secretary Matthew Richardson, who also described the NHS as the "biggest waste of money in the UK" in a video released last night.

A source told the paper that Mr Richardson said at 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."

Mr Richardson insisted the comments were "clearly light-hearted harmless banter in the pub" and did "not reflect any seriously held belief".

The paper said that Mr Richardson was appointed last year "to 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."

In a further blow to the party, Amjad Bashir, an MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, defected to the Tories last night, denouncing Ukip as "pretty amateur" with a "ridiculous" lack of policies.

Ukip general secretary: NHS costs too much money

Ukip's general secretary Matthew Richardson has said the NHS costs too much money to run and is partly to blame for Britain's national debt, in a video released by the Labour party.

Mr Richardson is also reported to have gone on to say that Britain has "thousands of bigots" and Ukip is proud to stand up for them, according to The Sunday Times (£).

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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
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