EXCL Ukip Copeland candidate leaps to defence of Paul Nuttall amid Hillsborough storm
Ukip’s candidate in the Copeland by-election has leapt to the defence of Paul Nuttall after the party leader came under fire over false statements about the Hillsborough tragedy.
Fiona Mills insisted that Mr Nuttall is “honest” and accused the media of trying to discredit him to scupper his bid to win the Stoke-on-Trent by-election, which is also taking place on 23 February.
Two press releases published on Mr Nuttall’s website in 2011 and 2012 said he had lost “close personal friends” in the 1989 disaster that claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans.
But the North West of England MEP admitted yesterday that despite being at the match, the claim about losing close friends - written by an aide - was false.
Campaigners who have long fought for justice after years of cover-up over the tragedy yesterday told PoliticsHome Mr Nuttall’s actions were “disgraceful”.
But Ms Mills told PoliticsHome: “Paul is doing really well in Stoke.The media are dredging up old stories, anything to discredit him…
“He would never knowingly deceive anybody and I think this is just appalling to dredge this up.”
She added: “I know Paul quite well and he’s upset about this. He didn’t know that was on his website. You can’t keep track of absolutely everything.
“He’s been honest enough to say actually what was written there was wrong.”
Kenny Derbyshire, the chair of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, told PoliticsHome last night: “It’s disgraceful what he’s doing - using Hillsborough for political gain… He should know better.”
Margaret Aspinall, the chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group also condemned the Ukip leader's behaviour.
Mr Nuttall said last night he was “appalled” that the false impression had been given about his involvement in the incident, while Linda Roughley, the press officer who took the blame for writing the claims - said she was “mortified”.
Ms Roughley offered to resign over the issue, but a spokesperson for Ukip confirmed the offer had been rejected.
TRUMP 'PROBABLY WON THE POPULAR VOTE'
Elsewhere, Ms Hill doubled down on a tweet she posted in December claiming US president Donald Trump “probably won the popular vote” despite a rigged electoral system.
Exclude the dead voters, non citizen voters & the vote swapping by the Soros machines & Trump probably won popular vote too. @thomaslinders
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular tally by almost three million votes, but Mr Trump won the presidency through the electoral college system.
Ms Hill told PoliticsHome she “saw some video evidence” that voting machines owned by billionaire George Soros had helped rig the result - even though the claim Mr Soros even owns a firm producing voting machines is false.
She also said votes by non-citizens and “possibly votes by people who are dead” may have been cast, adding: “So you just wonder about all of this.”
UKIP COMMONS SPLIT ON HORIZON?
Ms Hill - who is a supporter of Mr Trump - said she would “possibly” back a motion of no confidence in John Bercow, after the Commons speaker attacked the US president, sparking concerns about his impartiality.
Doing so would put her at odds with Ukip’s only other member of parliament, Douglas Carswell, who said supporting the motion would lead to “Commons chaos” and distract from the project of Brexit.