Ukip candidate suspended over online race row

Derek Wilkes
Derek Wilkes

A WIGAN election candidate is under investigation by his party after a string of vile racially motivated comments were made on his Facebook page.

Derek Wilkes, who stood for Ukip in Douglas ward during this month’s council elections, sparked outrage after the internet postings were highlighted by campaign group Hope Not Hate.

I do not agree with anything that Derek wrote and neither does the party

Maureen Mccoy - Wigan Ukip chair

The organisation accused Mr Wilkes of making a series of highly-inflammatory posts about Muslims and Islam as well as aggressive comments towards immigrants.

Wigan Ukip has now confirmed he has been suspended from the branch pending a full internal investigation by the party’s regional office.

Chair Maureen McCoy said: “I do not agree with anything that Derek wrote and neither does the party.

“I’ve spoken to him about it and I am in discussion with the regional office. The officer has been made aware of it and I will follow any advice given.”

Hope Not Hate’s blog Purple Rain revealed a series of Facebook tirades apparently posted by Mr Wilkes calling newcomers to the country “filthy” and “garbage”.

He also said immigration had turned Britain into a “cesspit” and referred to Islam as “an evil cult”.

Mr Wilkes also shared a number of anti-Muslim

images and posts made on Facebook by the notorious Britain First group.

A spokesman for Ukip’s North West office also strongly condemned Mr Wilkes’ views, but said it was not sure whether his party membership had been suspended or if he was only barred from branch activity in Wigan.

Mr Wilkes came second in the election for Douglas ward, gaining 1,130 votes. The seat was held by Michael Dewhurst for Labour with 3,145 votes but Mr Wilkes proved more popular at the ballot box than Conservative candidate Margaret Atherton (525 votes) and Adele Andrews for Left Unity (98 votes).

Hope Not Hate said it was concerned at the level of support for Mr Wilkes.

Researcher Simon Cressy said: “I hadn’t realised how well Mr Wilkes. He got quite a sizeable vote which is quite shocking to me.

“I wonder if he would have achieved that if the people of Douglas ward were aware of some of the things he had been posting and some of his extreme beliefs.

“I wonder if people would feel represented if they had the misfortune of having Mr Wilkes elected as a councillor or whether he could represent all his constituents fairly.”

It is not the first time Mr Wilkes has aroused controversy with his activities on social media, as his bid for election in 2014 saw him picked out for a Facebook post which called for David Cameron and Tony Blair to be “hung for treason” for their actions in office.

Several attempts have been made by the Wigan Evening Post to contact Mr Wilkes about his comments but he has not responded to our requests for an interview.