‘I had no choice’
Former UKIP MEP wants apology after ‘discrediting campaign’
A Conservative MEP who defected from UKIP earlier this year has said his former party faces the threat of legal action if allegations made against him are not withdrawn.
Yorkshire and Humber MEP, Amjad Bashir, joined the Tories in January after branding UKIP a ‘party of ruthless self-interest’. However, just hours before his official resignation was to be made public, he was suspended.
Nigel Farage’s party issued a press release stating the decision was due to ‘unanswered financial and employment questions’, something the accused has always vehemently denied.
The following day, Mr Farage also publically criticised the behaviour of his former colleague, branding his acceptance by the Conservatives as the ‘only surprise’.
Now, following an episode of the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, it has been revealed that Mr Bashir’s solicitors, Atkins Thompson, sent a nine-page legal letter to Mr Farage and UKIP chairman Steve Crowther.
In it, demands are made which include the removal of a press release discrediting Mr Bashir from the UKIP website, an apology is made in open court, and damages and legal costs be paid.
The letter says: “There can be no other conclusion that [the allegations] were published as part of a deliberate campaign on the part of UKIP and its most senior officers to discredit Mr Bashir in retaliation for his decision to join the Conservative Party.”
Adding: “Contrary to the impression given by the press release, [Mr Bashir] had no forewarning of what UKIP had decided to allege.”
In a statement, Mr Bashir said the case ‘remains in the hands of his lawyers’ and was now waiting for any response.
“As soon as the various allegations were made it became clear that I had no choice but to pursue legal advice,” he said.
“I have taken that advice, we have compiled a case, and this now remains in the hands of my lawyers.”
A response to the letter is expected to be returned mid-April.