Ukip MEP forced to apologise after appearing to call the head of Christian charity a paedophile

Jane Collins also implied the Mark Russell was guilty of ‘criminal activity’ in fiery Twitter exchange

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The Independent Online

A Ukip MEP has been forced to apologise after allegedly accusing the CEO of a Christian charity of being a paedophile.

Jane Collins, Ukip MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, apologised to Mark Russell two days ago after wrongly implying on Twitter the head of Church Army charity was guilty of “criminal activity”.

Mr Russell, a Labour party member, tweeted his support of the party’s candidate in the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner by-election when Mrs Collins – who has been campaigning heavily for Ukip’s candidate in the election – replied.

“Yes because we’d soon stop your criminal activity. Paedos leave our kids alone.#UKIP”, she wrote.

A by-election was called following the resignation of Shaun Wright, the Labour police commissioner, in the aftermath of the Rotherham child exploitation scandal. 

Mr Russell screen-grabbed the offending remarks, requested an apology – and an explanation.

“Stop my criminal activity? Have you heard of libel law?” He asked before requesting an apology.

Mrs Collins later attempted to explain her comment, suggesting that “it was aimed at the paedophiles not you”, adding: “I’ll take the tweet down because it read wrong but if you want to protect vulnerable people your [sic] with the wrong party Mark !!”

As the exchange attracted increasing attention from other social media uses, Mr Russell replied: “I’m not happy with an apology with a but in it. I’m ceo of @Church Army and I want an unreserved apology”.

 

Speaking to the Guardian Mr Russell claimed the accusation was especially damaging given his work, which includes supporting extremely vulnerable individuals. He also mentioned Mrs Collins’ original accusation was re-tweeted by Ukip supporters, furthering the spread of abuse.

Mrs Collins did eventually offer a full apology, writing: “Mark I have said it wasn’t aimed at you personally and it read wrong. I unreservedly apologise for implication.”

The MEP has also said she will donate to Mr Russell’s charity, an evangelist organisation – which counts the Queen among its patrons – linked to the Church of England, although Mr Russell claims this was only proposed after he had threatened to sue her.

Mrs Collins did not respond to emails. Mr Russell declined to comment further.

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