A Ukip parliamentary candidate has been forced to apologise after she hit out at an HIV-positive politician, arguing that free NHS care for his condition is “very costly” to taxpayers.
Patricia Culligan, Ukip’s candidate in the target seat of Eastleigh, tweeted her comment alongside a link to a Daily Mail article about Paul Childs, the Liberal Democrat for the Liverpool Riverside seat.
“2nd LibDem candidate reveals he deliberately became HIV positive yet free NHS care v costly,” she tweeted.
The comments will be especially uncomfortable for Ukip because they appear to question Ms Culligan’s commitment to universal free NHS treatment.
Mr Childs had spoken out about his condition after comments by Nigel Farage in which the UKip leader called for people with HIV to be barred from coming to the UK.
The Ukip candidate was spoken to by party officials and later deleted her tweet and issued an apology for her comments: “I sincerely apologise for any totally unintended offence due to a mis- reading of the Mail article.I have nothing but sympathy 4 sufferers,” she wrote.
“I've always championed HIV care & equal rights,as a friend,SWrkr& teacher:I'm totally sad to have read article wrong&would never cause hurt.”
A Ukip spokesperson said: “We wholeheartedly support the NHS being free at the point of access and kept publicly-funded.
“We have spoken to Ms Culligan and advised her to retract the comment which seems to conflate two very separate issues.”
Ukip came second in the 2013 Eastleigh by-election, getting 27.8% of the vote behind the Liberal Democrats’ 32.1%.
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