Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Ukip council candidate William Henwood resigns as party member over Lenny Henry racism row

He had said Lenny Henry should emigrate to a 'black country'

Kashmira Gander
Wednesday 30 April 2014 01:25 BST
Lenny Henry, whom William Henwood told to emigrate to a "black country"
Lenny Henry, whom William Henwood told to emigrate to a "black country" (Tim Whitby/Getty Images)

Ukip council candidate William Henwood has resigned as a member of the party after he suggested actor Lenny Henry should emigrate to a “black country”.

Mr Henwood was due to stand as a candidate for Enfield, north London, in the European Elections on 22 May, when he sparked the racism row.

His comments were made regarding a campaign launched by Mr Henry which the actor hopes will see ethnic minorities better represented both on British television and in the media in general.

Mr Henwood responded to the project by tweeting: “He [Henry] should emigrate to a black country. He does not have to live with whites.”

He later 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.”

In a statement issued at the time, Ukip said it was a “non-racist, non-sectarian party whose members are expected to uphold these values”.

A Ukip spokesman on Tuesday: “Mr Henwood's remarks about Lenny Henry caused enormous offence and Ukip MEP candidate for the West Midlands Bill Etheridge spoke for many in the party with his strong condemnation,” adding that his resignation was mutually agreed and thought of as “the best course [of action]”.

Mr Henwood’s move adds to a string of controversies which have dogged the party in the run up to next month’s election. These include a poster campaign that was accused of being racist, and Mr Farage being asked why his party is anti-immigration yet he chooses to hire his German wife as his secretary.

Adding to the disorder was would-be councillor Andre Lampitt, who was suspended hours for featuring in an election broadcast in which he expressed racist and anti-Islamic views on social media.

The party is also planning to begin action against two of its members who were found to be linked to far-right groups following an internal investigation.

One of the men was discovered to have been a member of the British National Party from 2005-2010, wihle the second made donations to the English Defence League.

Labour former minister Barbara Roche - who chairs the Migration Matters Trust with a Tory MP and Liberal Democrat peer - accused of promoting a form of “'Euracism”'.

“They are deploying the same language and tactics used by openly racist parties like the BNP, but instead of targeting migrants from Africa and Asia they are targeting migrants from within the EU,” she said.

“It is no less offensive to say British families should be wary of Romanians moving in next door than it is to say it of Nigerians or Indians,” she said, in response to Mr Farage's own warnings about the dangers posed by Eastern European immigrants.

While on the campaign trail, Mr Farage compared what he claims are attempts to portray his party as racist with former Prime Minister Gordon Brown's dismissal of a voter who complained to him about the impact of immigration during the 2010 general election campaign as a “bigot”.

“I think the British public will take this extremely badly. I believe they want and appreciate the new choices being offered to them by Ukip on issues like immigration control, and will certainly not appreciate being branded racist for doing so.

”The electorate is not in the mood to be intimidated by the political establishment and Messrs Cameron, Miliband and Clegg have just made another disastrous mistake. I call on all fair-minded British people to swing behind Ukip and teach these creeps a lesson they won't forget in a hurry,” he said.

Additional reporting by PA

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in