UK Politics

Ex-UKIP candidate apologises for migrant boy death tweets

Peter Bucklitsch
Image caption Mr Bucklitsch said his words were "inelegant"

A former UKIP parliamentary candidate has apologised for blaming the death of a Syrian boy found drowned on a Turkish beach on his parents' greed.

Peter Bucklitsch said on Twitter that the boy was "well clothed and well fed" and died because his parents were "greedy for the good life in Europe".

His remarks had been condemned by MPs and a UKIP spokeswoman said they did not represent the party's views.

Mr Bucklitsch told the BBC he was sorry "for the evident distress" caused.

'Inelegant'

Mr Bucklitsch's tweets were in response to photographs of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who was found lying dead on a beach in Turkey after drowning when the boat he and his family were travelling on to Greece sank.

The images sparked an international outcry over the human cost of the migrant crisis.

Mr Bucklitsch, who stood for UKIP in Wimbledon at the May 2015 election, wrote: "Queue jumping costs."

He added: "Predictable unthinking outrage. Turkey is not a place where the family was in danger. Leaving that safe place put the family in peril."

Image copyright @bucklitsch
Image copyright @bucklitsch

His comments - which have since been deleted from his Twitter account - drew criticism from UKIP MP Douglas Carswell, who said it was a "grotesque and awful" thing to say.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron tweeted that Mr Bucklitsch - who previously stood as a candidate for the party at the 2010 election - had showed an "appalling lack of compassion".

The Lib Dems said he was expelled from the party after standing for the Conservatives in Wealden council elections a year later.

Contacted by the BBC, Mr Bucklitsch said: "I apologise for the evident distress this caused, and have removed it.

"It was an inelegant way of agreeing that the problems lie in the regions where conditions precipitate such a strong desire to reach a place where life can begin again."

He said the image of the boy had upset him but admitted that "to lash out at the parents who were trying to do their best was not, on reflection, the best answer".

But he warned: "Forcing migrants of all descriptions to pay people smugglers to get them into the EU illegally will continue to be the problem, and will inevitably cause death and misery on a large scale."

A spokeswoman for UKIP said Mr Bucklitsch was not a party candidate or an officer and that his opinions on social media "in no way represent the views of the party".

Asked if he would be prevented from standing for the party again, the spokeswoman said she would expect so, adding: "We've got pretty good vetting procedures."

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