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Ukip leader Henry Bolton says scrutiny of his private life is like that faced by Princess Diana

Ukip members will today gather to decide whether Henry Bolton has a future as the leader of the crisis-hit party

Chris Baynes
Saturday 17 February 2018 00:40 GMT
Henry Bolton lashed out at coverage of his private life
Henry Bolton lashed out at coverage of his private life (Getty)

Ukip‘s beleaguered leader has compared scrutiny of his private life to that faced by Princess Diana.

Henry Bolton‘s fate will be decided at a crisis meeting on Saturday after the party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) backed a motion of no confidence in his leadership.

The 54-year-old has been clinging on to the leadership amid a revolt by several senior Ukip figures over his relationship with model Jo Marney, who sent racist messages about Prince Harry’s fiance Meghan Markle.

Mr Bolton, 54, left his wife, with whom he has two children, to begin a relationship with Ms Marney, 25.

Hitting out at media interest in his private life, he said: “The only people that are truly affected by that are my wife and children, and I feel deeply, deeply sad for what pain and hurt I’ve caused them but it’s a private matter and it needs to be dealt with privately.

“I understand the scrutiny and public interest but it’s been going on for six weeks.

“There’s probably been nothing like that since the Profumo affair or Diana and Dodi [Fayed].”

The Princess of Wales faced intense media attention following the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Charles was being pursued by paparazzi on motorbikes when she was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997.

In an interview with Sky News, Mr Bolton added: “The interesting thing about this whole case is that I myself have done nothing wrong. I have gone through a huge degree of scrutiny and a massive amount of personal disruption over the last six weeks.

“It’s been an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy... in hindsight I would have probably dealt with certain personal elements of it in a different way.”

Mr Bolton last month said he had ended his relationship with Ms Marney after racist messages emerged in which she said Ms Markle’s “seed” would “taint” the royal family.

Asked by Sky News if he the couple had since rekindled their relationship, he replied: “Well, what do you call a relationship?

“I’m in a relationship with my mother and my nieces and nephews.”

He admitted having “strong affections” for Ms Marney but denied they were in a sexual relationship.

Mr Bolton‘s future will be determined by hundreds of Ukip members at an extraordinary general meeting in Birmingham which will decide whether or not to endorse the NEC’s no confidence vote.

The Ukip leader, who has called for sweeping changes to the way the party is run, claimed he was the victim of rivals “stirring the pot”.

“The people who started complaining about this were people on the NEC, none of whom voted for me in the leadership election,” he said.

“Secondly there were a small number of individuals within the party, failed leadership contenders who saw an opportunity in me leaving my wife to go in for the kill – they’re stirring the pot... If they were truly dedicated to the party and their country and not to their own they would have stayed at their posts.”

Mr Bolton's cash-straparty is in crisis, with the prospect of a legal bill over a defamation action brought by Rotherham’s three Labour MPs against MEP Jane Collins.

Former leader Nigel Farage handed Mr Bolton a lifeline by supporting him, but said the party was “collapsing”.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said: “I believe it would be better to allow Mr Bolton, with all his faults, the chance to turn Ukip into an electoral machine again.

“The alternative is for the party to carry on down the path of self-destruction into irrelevance. It may be too late to save Ukip, but you never know.”

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