Wales politics

UKIP AM stopped from giving slavery immigration speech

David Rowlands
Image caption David Rowlands said it was "appalling" that he was prevented from speaking

A row has broken out over a modern slavery event in the Senedd where a Labour AM refused to allow a UKIP AM to give a speech about immigration.

David Rowlands said it was "appalling" that he was not allowed to say slavery was "largely a case of exploitation of immigrants by immigrants".

But Labour AM Joyce Watson said the party had tried to "hijack" her event.

She said she would not allow the AM to peddle "anti-immigrant rubbish" at her invitation.

"Today was about listening to a survivor's story, It was about uniting to end exploitation, not sowing division," she said.

Wednesday's event, in the Senedd, centred on the personal testimony of a survivor of abuse, who had been trafficked in the UK.

Mr Rowlands said he attended the event on behalf of fellow UKIP AM Caroline Jones, who had been invited.

Image caption Joyce Watson said UKIP had tried to "hijack" her event

He had wanted to give a speech where he said: "The National Crime Agency said that a recent crackdown lifted the lid on the 'shocking' scale of modern slavery.

"There are potentially tens of thousands of victims in the UK, and that this is largely a case of exploitation of immigrants by immigrants."

He said Ms Watson had asked to see the speech, and for Mr Rowlands to remove the remark about immigration.

Mr Rowlands refused and Ms Watson told the UKIP he would not be called to speak, he said.

The UKIP AM said it was an "appalling situation where free speech is being denied to an assembly member simply because I have a different point to make".

Ms Watson said: "This afternoon, UKIP tried to hijack my Senedd event on modern slavery. They take up enough time in the chamber and assembly committees peddling their anti-immigrant rubbish - they weren't going to do so at my invitation."

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