Paul Nuttall: UKIP is victim of Tory smear campaign

UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall claims his party could dig up scandals if it turned its fire on the Conservatives but insisted his party would not take such action "because we are better than that".

Nutall's comments came after his party faced a number of embarrassing revelations about some of its council candidates, accusing the Tories of running a "morallyreprehensible" smear campaign by trawling through would-be councillors'Twitter and Facebook posts.

A UKIP candidate's rosette during the local elections count and declarations at the Towngate Theatre in Basildon. Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

The party has been investigating a handful of its candidates over links to groups such as the BNP and alleged racist and homophobic comments.

Mr Nuttall told BBC Breakfast: "You might say that's scrutiny, I think it is a smear campaign. They are playing the man and not the ball and that's never been done in local elections before. No other political party has come under the scrutiny we have.

"If we return that favour and did exactly the same to the other parties I'm sure we'll find more skeletons and more scandal but we wouldn't do that because we are better than that. We are grown up and we want to fight this on principle and policy.

"We trust our branches and we've had a small number of problems with a small number of candidates.

"But actually, if the other parties had the same scrutiny that we've had, which is unprecedented in the history of local politics ... I actually think in many ways it is bad for local politics because what it will do is it will not encourage people to stand in the future."