Ukip woman ‘quit after harassment’

Published: Tuesday 9th December 2014 by The News Editor

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A high profile Ukip candidate is reported to have quit the party after complaining that she was sexually harassed by a senior official.

The Times reported that Natasha Bolter, who defected to Ukip from Labour, has pulled out of the hustings to become the party’s parliamentary candidate for the winnable seat of South Basildon.

Earlier Ukip announced that it had suspended its general secretary Roger Bird – who is responsible for vetting candidates – over allegations of impropriety.

A spokesman confirmed that the investigation related to claims made by Ms Bolter.

“We take what she said extremely seriously,” the spokesman said.

Ms Bolter told The Times that Mr Bird had propositioned her after inviting her for dinner at his London club on the day he interviewed her as a prospective candidate.

“He asked if we could continue the interview at the Oxford and Cambridge Club that evening,” she was quoted as saying.

“I thought it was because I was nervous. (But) when I went I could see that he wasn’t really interested in what I had to offer as a politician.”

“He took me down to the snooker room and said ‘I find you very attractive’. He said, ‘Would you like to come home with me?’,” Ms Bolter told The Times.

Ms Bolter denies any romantic or sexual contact took place. It is understood Mr Bird has claimed that he had a consensual relationship with Ms Bolter, The Times reported.

In a statement, Ukip said Mr Bird had been suspended on December 7 pending a full investigation into the allegations relating to candidate selection.

“Shortly after a claim came to light about the conduct of Mr Bird with regard to candidate selection, the UK Independence Party took action swiftly and decisively, including steps involving external human resources consultants, as well as following due process and the party’s constitution to the letter,” the statement said.

A Ukip spokesperson commented: “Unfortunately, Ukip has had to suspend Mr Bird pending a full investigation into allegations made against him. The party has acted swiftly and decisively and will not tolerate impropriety of any kind amongst its staff.”

According to his LinkedIn profile, Mr Bird had been Ukip general secretary since July 2014 and had previously been finance director at Astrum Education and Alpha Plus Group. He has also served as the party’s chairman in the South East.

A former Conservative councillor in Wandsworth, south London, Mr Bird quit the Tories in 2009 and switched to Ukip a year later.

He was named last year as Ukip general election candidate in the Surrey constituency of Mole Valley.

Published: Tuesday 9th December 2014 by The News Editor

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