'Complete and utter nonsense': Nigel Farage rubbishes Hitler Youth allegations ahead of Ukip Party conference

Leader denies accusations of fascist behaviour as a 17-year-old and says his party is ‘growing up’

Speaking ahead of the Ukip conference in London today, Nigel Farage sought to distance himself from reports that he had used “racist and fascist” language as a 17-year-old at Dulwich College, calling the allegations broadcast by Channel 4 News, “complete and utter nonsense”.

"I think I regret virtually everything I said and did at 17," Mr Farage told BBC Breakfast.

"It was felt inappropriate to discuss immigration so we did it with glee... it was nothing more than a wind-up"

Mr Farage also highlighted Ukip’s quick party growth, saying:

"When a political party goes from being very small to being medium-sized or big, it's rather like growing up," he said. "There are some difficult teenage years that you have to get through."

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg refused to pass judgement on reports that Mr Farage sang Hitler Youth songs as a teenager.

The Deputy Prime Minister told radio station LBC 97.3 that it would be an “unhealthy development” to start judging politicians on the basis of their actions at school.

“He needs to answer to those allegations, as such, but I don't, other than in really extreme circumstances.

"We go back to who threw sand at who in the sandpit? I don't want to belittle what has been said about Nigel Farage because, of course, Hitler songs is a sort of category on its own.

Mr Clegg added: “He denies it completely. I just think if we are going to start moving to a time where we start saying you said this when you were 12, therefore you are not fit now to occupy a public office I think that would probably be a pretty unhealthy development.”

The Ukip leader is today due to predict that his Party will come first in next year’s European election and surpass the Liberal Democrats in terms of members within 18 months.

Mr Farage will tell the conference: “We've 30,000 members and growing fast. Certainly by the time of the general election we'll be the third-highest-membership party in Britain.”

The Ukip leader also believes the 2014 EU referendum will be a lynch-pin moment for his party.

He is due to say: “Let's make May 22 as our referendum on EU membership, let us send an earthquake through Westminster. Let us stand up and say: 'Give us our country back'.”

The Ukip leader will claim London is suffering from a "Romanian crime wave" and will accuse the Coalition of welcoming "foreign criminal gangs" from new East European EU member states.