Ukip's Paul Nuttall has stood by his immigration spokesman after he retweeted a slogan mired in racist controversy.

John Bickley, who is also the party's treasurer, retweeted a cartoon with the slogan: "If you want a jihadi for a neighbour - vote Labour" to his 4,400 followers.

The slogan dates back to 1964 when a racially offensive word was used in support of the Conservative Party's Peter Griffiths during the Smethwick election.

Griffiths, whose campaign material said "If you want a n***** for a neighbour, vote Labour", went on to win the Midlands constituency.

Nuttall said his aide did not know the contentious background of the slogan and has apologised and deleted the tweet.

John Bickley retweeted the cartoon with the contentious slogan. Credit: Twitter

He said: "He's got my support, absolutely, he's apologised for it."

He added: "It wasn't clever and John's apologised and he's taken it down."

Nuttall, who is battling to secure the Labour-held Stoke Central constituency in a by-election vote on February 23, said Mr Bickley had been "mortified".

The party leader said: "He's not a politics anorak, John, and I don't think he understood the history of that slogan which goes back to the 1960s.

"That was pointed out to him and as soon as it was, he was mortified by it and he took it down and he's apologised."

Paul Nuttall said Mr Bickley did not understand the contentious nature of the slogan. Credit: PA

Mr Bickley, who came second in the Oldham West and Royton by-election, told the Huffington Post: "I retweeted a cartoon about the potential consequences of Labour’s support for uncontrolled immigration without realising it relied on a rhyme that had been used in an election in 1964 in racially abusive context.

"I have since deleted the retweet and apologise for any offence caused."

Mr Bickley's actions caused outrage on Twitter.

Tottenham MP David Lammy tweeted: "Ukip: Bringing the 1964 Smethwick by-election to a campaign near you soon."

Seb Dance, the Labour MEP who held up a sign which read "He's lying to you" while Nigel Farage spoke in European parliament, said: "Echoing the disgusting Smethwick 1964 slogan, this shows true face of UKIP and why Labour should oppose them at every turn."