Ukip has been forced to deny links to a local councillor in Cambridgeshire after he was reportedly made to apologise to firefighters for using “racist” and “deeply offensive” language.
Peter Lagoda was the subject of a formal complaint from one member of the fire service when, during a visit to a station last month, the councillor described his north African sister as a “w**” and relatives in Germany as “Mongols” whose children had “slanty eyes”.
When questioned about the incident, Mr Lagoda admitted using the language but said it was in the context of a “private conversation” and that he must have been misunderstood by the firefighters because his “English must be greater than theirs”, according to the Huffington Post.
He told the website: “Yes, my cousin married Mongols and now all their little children are ever so cute and they have slanty eyes.
“They've taken it the wrong way and my English must be far greater than theirs because I looked in the dictionary and a person from Mongolia is called a Mongol. It’s always the British that bastardize words.”
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “w**” is an offensive term used to describe foreigners, especially those who are not white.
Mr Lagoda is listed on the Cambridgeshire County Council website as being a member for Ukip, and according to the Huffington Post it was the party’s local group that forced him to write an apology to the firefighters he offended – a letter he says “shouldn’t have gone out”.
Yet a spokesperson for Ukip insisted he has not been an “acting councillor” for the party since he was suspended last year after being charged with benefit fraud.
The spokesperson said Ukip takes the incident “very seriously”, but added: “Councillor Lagoda was suspended from the party before this incident occurred. He is not an acting councillor for Ukip now and he was not an acting councillor for Ukip at the time of this incident.”
Other local politicians rounded on Ukip following Mr Lagoda’s comments. Martin Curtis, head of the Cambridgeshire council’s Conservative group, told the Times: “As far as I’m concerned he is still a party member. He still sits with the UKIP group at our council. He still sits in their group meetings as well. They say they are disowning him but it doesn’t look like it from the outside.”
Labour MEP Richard Howitt told the Huffington Post the remarks were “very shocking” and “deeply offensive”, and criticized Ukip for letting him remain a member.
“The national leadership of Ukip consistently try to distance themselves from what is the overt prejudice and racism that exists in their membership, but their failure to remove the whip from this particular councillor cries out loud about the true nature of the party,” he said.
Mr Lagoda becomes the latest in a string of party members to be involved in controversy in recent months.
Earlier in February, a BBC Newsnight investigation found that the party’s former Commonwealth spokesman Mujeeb Bhutto used to be the “boss” of a kidnapping gang in Pakistan. Bhutto, who is still a wanted man in Pakistan, has claimed the charges against him were “simply because of political rivalry”. He told Newsnight he admitted to leading the kidnapping gang in 2005 to avoid the risk of deportation and being hanged.
In January, the Ukip councillor David Silvester was suspended from the party in the wake of comments suggesting recent storms could be blamed on David Cameron’s decision to legalise gay marriage.
In November last year, one of the party’s MEPs Stuart Agnew sparked a furore after he said women don’t “have the ambition” to get to the top in business because babies “get in the way”.
And a month earlier, the MEP Godfrey Bloom was famously suspended from Ukip for describing women who don’t clean their fridges as “sluts”, hitting out against sending aid to “bongo bongo land” and physically hitting a reporter over the head with a party brochure.
Party leader Nigel Farage has previously responded to the rows by pledging to cleanse the party of anyone with “extremist, nasty or barmy views” – while insisting that there have been similar “outbreaks” of such views from people “of all political persuasions”.