UKIP Uncovered
What motivates the leaders of the United Kingdom Independence Party?

Sunday, April 27, 2003 

Unjustly Suspended Regional Committees Revisited

It has been a while since we have referred to the position of the suspended North East and Yorkshire and Humberside Committees. They remain suspended in spite of the legality of such suspension being strongly in doubt. We sought the permission to put the contents of the letter from various members of the suspended North East Committee to their broader membership here on the blog. We are glad to say we have now received that permission and the full contents follow. Please copy this letter and circulate it as widely as possible amongst any other UKIP members you might know....Their Committee or Branch could be next!

9th April,2003.
Dear Member,

North east members of UKIP have been sent a letter dated 8th April by the Party Chairman, Mr.Lott, although neither our Chairman Michael Rollings nor Secretary Judith Wallace has received it.

That letter was one-sided, to say the least. We, the undersigned, as the majority on the North East Committee, have always endeavoured to work together to attack the EU and to restore Britain’s independence - in our view, that is the sole reason for the Party’s existence. On 8th March we had received an email from Mr Lott sending us “congratulations from the National Executive Committee.…on the remarkable percentage increase in membership in the North East”.

A full committee meeting was held in Newcastle on Saturday 8th March at which its decisions were unanimously agreed by all those present, as can be evidenced by several independent observers. Despite this unanimity a secret complaint was apparently made to Mr. Lott that very evening or early next morning.

Less than 24 hours later, without any serious enquiries having been made to ascertain the true facts of the situation, the committee’s suspension was proposed by the Party’s European Election Committee, chaired by Mr Farage.

Having examined the rules we do not accept that there is any constitutional basis for our suspension, a view supported by other senior party members. We wrote to Mr Farage requesting written details of the allegations (copied to the Party Leader, Chairman and all NEC members). This letter has not even received the courtesy of an acknowledgement, let alone a detailed explanation.

Later that week without notice or warning, we received Solicitors’ letters, sent by an exclusive firm of London Solicitors, on the instructions of Mr.Farage. This seems to us to be an astonishingly heavy-handed way for a Party to treat its volunteers; we do not know who paid the lawyers’ fees, presumably at the Party’s expense and if so from individual members’ subscriptions.

Mr. Lott’s letter to you refers to protection of your “democratic right to select the candidates”. We too believe it important that all relevant information about prospective candidates should be made available to members, and that this should include, for example, details of criminal convictions or past bankruptcies. As any such background information would be bound to be of interest to press and opponents in an election, we believed that the UKIP members should be aware of it if they were to make an informed decision as to whom to select as their candidates.

Our Secretary wrote on 5th February to the Party’s General Secretary, Mr. M. Harvey (sending a copy to Mr. Lott), asking if such information ( convictions or bankruptcies) would accompany biographical details sent with ballot papers to members by Head Office.

This was yet another letter that was ignored, as was a reminder a month later.

In a further attempt to keep candidates’ details from the members, the Party Secretary, Mr Clark, at the Hustings in Middlesborough on 17th March, attempted to prevent a question on these matters being put to prospective candidates. It transpired, after further discussion, that one prospective candidate, Mr Peter Troy, confessed that he had indeed been bankrupt.

We have only recently learned that, in addition to the candidates at the meeting on 17 March, there are if fact other potential candidates, but for whatever reason Head Office have failed to notify the North East of their details. This may have been a simple oversight or there may be other reasons why Head Office have deprived the North East of their democratic right to choose from the full range of potential candidates. A full list had not been sent in time for them to participate in the Hustings and even now their particulars have still not arrived. On the very day of the second Hustings, deputy Leader Mr Nattrass intimated an intention to stand, but withdrew.

On 22nd March the “Northern Echo” reported that a man named Mr Agnew was supporting “the Tyne and Wear drive for both the BNP and the UK Independence Party” and that he might stand for election.

One of our prospective candidates, Mr Martin Cole, contacted Head Office about this and in addition Mr Cole wrote to the newspaper to say that one could not represent both parties.

Mr Clark from UKIP Head Office, responded to Mr Cole that this “new member” had been sent a notice terminating his membership.

There are serious concerns surrounding the way in which Mr Agnew was allowed to become a member at all.

Some 4 or 5 years ago, Mr Agnew was a member of UKIP but was asked to leave by our Treasurer Mr Rouse when his links to the extreme Right wing BNP were identified. Not deterred by being “asked to leave” once Mr Agnew again sought to become a UKIP candidate in 2001, this time through Head Office. Mr. Rollings, North East UKIP Chairman, advised UKIP Head Office of Agnew’s BNP connection and of his exclusion. Why then, when UKIP headquarters were already aware of these previous attempts by Agnew did Head Office give him membership yet again?

The whole affair becomes even more curious. Agnew is now quoted in the press as saying that his membership card arrived “out of the blue”, that he did not pay for it and that he was asked by UKIP to stand. This was certainly not a Regional Committee decision.

Mr Rollings has tried to find out the truth of the whole situation and has asked Mr Clark about this matter, but it will come as no surprise to you to find that once again he has not received a reply.

In the light of these developments your Regional Officers have attempted to investigate other memberships in an effort to ensure that the Agnew affair was a “one off” and that there are no other skeletons to be unearthed.

Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, we now have concerns about other serious irregularities in the membership. We have referred the matter to Head Office; further press reports would only damage the Party.

Mr Cole, a very able man, indicated last week that with the present leadership of UKIP he felt unable to continue with his candidature; now, as you know, the Party has disqualified him. (He may appeal). Three of the other candidates, all committed to the anti EU cause, are now considering their position; all of them know we need a good team to fight the EU effectively.

We cannot afford to loose such party workers - UKIP currently has a membership of about 9000, but there are over 8000 who have left the party.

We must ask “Why?”.

In the light of what we have told you it will probably come as no surprise to you to find that the North East UKIP Committee is not alone in having problems with Head Office. In addition to our own situation, the UKIP in London has seen fit to suspend the Committee in Yorkshire and Humberside too; they also have been sent Solicitors’ letters on the instruction of Head Office.

We joined UKIP to fight against the EU’s takeover of our country. We believe that we have been doing a good job in building up the fight and support in this Region to achieve this (even UKIP in London admitted it) - the current situation has entirely disrupted the work in this cause. We have already lost the opportunity to mount an effective campaign in several council wards, and a big public meeting planned for Durham has had to be much curtailed; leafleting has ground to a halt and letter writing much reduced just when we were starting to hit the Pro Euro Lobby were it hurt.

Our attention has been diverted from the real issue of vital importance to this country. This has not been achieved by the EU, nor by the pro Euro political parties but sadly by the actions of the current leadership of the UKIP.

There may yet be further developments.

Yours sincerely,
Michael Rollings (Chairman), Martin Rouse (Treasurer), Judith Wallace (Secretary)
Gavin Attwell, Rosie Attwell, Roy Makin

posted by Martin |2:47 PM
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