Ukip has been embroiled in a fresh row after one of its candidates sent a tweet in which he suggested that comedian Lenny Henry should emigrate to a “black country”.
William Henwood, who is standing in local elections in Enfield, north London, made the comment in response to recent remarks by Mr Henry that ethnic minorities are poorly represented on British television and in the media generally.
It is the latest racism controversy for Nigel Farage's party, which was last week forced to suspend the “poster boy” of its European election broadcast, after it was revealed he had posted a series of vile racist comments on Twitter.
In a statement Ukip said it was a “non-racist, non-sectarian party whose members are expected to uphold these values”.
But Mr Henwood has defended the tweet, in which he said: “He (Henry) should emigrate to a black country. He does not have to live with whites.”
Ukip gaffes and controversies
Ukip gaffes and controversies
1/12 Neil Hamilton
Picture Exclusive: The year is 1998. The venue is a Springbok Club meeting. The flag is a symbol for white supremacists in South Africa. And the speaker is Ukip’s deputy chairman, Neil Hamilton
2/12 Kerry Smith
Kerry Smith resigned as would-be MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock after it emerged he had mocked gay party members as “disgusting poofters”, joked about shooting people from Chigwell in a “peasant hunt” and referred to someone with a Chinese name as a “Chinky bird”
3/12 Natasha Bolter
Former Ukip member Natasha Bolter was suspected of not having the teaching qualifications she professed to, only days after it was revealed that claims of her having attended Oxford University were also false
4/12 Ukip Calypso song
Mike Reid released a single in praise of UKIP trying to control the UK's borders, only to withdraw the single after being accused of racism for singing in a Jamaican accent
5/12 Farage 'car-crash' interview
Ukip spin doctor forced to intervene as Farage falters in disastrous radio interview
6/12 Janice Atkinson
Janice Atkinson, Ukip's South East chair, pictured by protesters while campaigning in Ashford, Kent with local party chair Norman Taylor
7/12 Ukip cancels Freephone
Ukip cancels Freephone number after protesters repeatedly called to push up costs
8/12 Farage 'car-crash' interview
Mr Farage appeared to be caught out on a number of issues, from Romanian neighbours to people speaking foreign languages on the train
9/12 Ukip employs illegal immigrants
Ukip criticised after European election candidate found employing illegal immigrants
10/12 Magnus Nielsen
Ukip candidate: 'Take away the right to vote to improve election turnout'
11/12 London Live make-up
Ukip's Nigel Farage reportedly refused to go on London Live 'without professional make up-artist'
Nigel Farage says he is taking taking legal advice over “outrageous” allegations that he is responsible for more than £50,000 of “missing” EU funding that was paid directly into his personal bank account
Mr Henwood told the BBC: “I think if black people come to this country and don't like mixing with white people why are they here? If he (Henry) wants a lot of blacks around, go and live in a black country.”
Roger Helmer, a Ukip MEP for the East Midlands told the broadcaster that Mr Henwood’s comments did not reflect the attitudes of the party as a whole.
He said: “We have an individual who has made totally unacceptable comments but you will find individuals like that in all parties, and behaviour like that in all parties.
"I understand why the media and the other parties want to focus on those particular claims about UKIP.
“We will deal with this appropriately when the party has had time to look at the facts and in the meantime we are quite clear that we are not a racist party and we do not accept comments of that kind.”
A Ukip spokesman told the BBC: “Any breach of our rules will be duly investigated and action will be taken.
"However one has to question why the other parties are spending hours behaving like secret police and trawling through the social media of UKIP candidates who are everyday men and women, rather than actually doing politics.
“Perhaps if they did they would be better able to tackle us on policy, rather than having to rely on smear campaigns to try to undermine UKIP's increasing popularity.
"Were we to return the favour we would find an even greater wealth of embarrassment and disgrace in the other three parties' ranks to also spread across the media."
Last week builder Andre Lampitt, who was one of the principal characters in Ukip’s European election broadcast, was suspended after it was revealed he had sent a series of tweets expressing his unsavoury views on everything from Muslims, to AIDS, Syria and forced sterilisation.
The anti-EU party was also criticised for using an Irish migrant actor on a poster championing British workers.
However, the party enjoyed some relief on Sunday. A YouGov poll carried out for The Sunday Times revealed that the party has surged into the lead in the European election contest.
Ukip recorded 31 per cent support, putting it three points ahead of Labour, with the Conservatives languishing in third place on 19 per cent.
It is the first time the company has given Ukip an outright advantage in the race, ahead of voters going to the polls next month.