- 11 updates
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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'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 (£).
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.
Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister Without Portfolio, said
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.
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.
Latest ITV News reports
Nigel Farage has been forced again to field questions about his party's members on the day he wanted to be discussing a new election pledge.