Wales Election 2016

UKIP's Gareth Bennett tells fellow candidate: 'Don't do press or hustings'

Gareth Bennett Image copyright Media Wales
Image caption Gareth Bennett sparked a row when he blamed immigrants for problems with rubbish in Cardiff

UKIP's assembly election candidate in Cardiff North says the party's controversial lead candidate for South Wales Central has asked him not to speak to the press or take part in hustings.

Haydn Rushworth says Gareth Bennett said he should not do either as Mr Rushworth "hadn't been trained".

A UKIP spokeswoman said the allegation was "alarming".

Mr Bennett did not respond to requests for comment.

The South Wales Central candidate has caused controversy after linking rubbish in Cardiff streets to Eastern European immigrants.

Mr Rushworth, who has produced the party's election broadcast, said he was advised by Mr Bennett in an email "not to do any press or attend any hustings, as you haven't been trained to do it".

He said Mr Bennett told him: "We are certainly not expecting our 'paper candidates' to undertake such arduous tasks!"

Mr Rushworth said: "I work in the media industry professionally."

He said he found the request "mildly entertaining given my professional background".

'Happy to attend'

He said it was originally an agreement for himself to be a 'paper candidate' but has since wanted to get more involved.

Mr Rushworth, who was signed up to be a candidate at short notice, said he'd be "eager" to attend hustings if he was invited.

Mr Bennett survived an attempt by colleagues to have him removed as the lead UKIP South Wales Central regional candidate after he made controversial interviews to Wales Online and the BBC's Daily Politics programme.

The candidate has stood by his comments linking rubbish problems to Eastern European immigrants.

In the Wales Online interview Mr Bennett said he did not approve of door-to-door canvassing.

"I don't really like the idea of foisting myself on other people," he said.

"Obviously some people don't like us and some people just aren't interested in politics. I don't really need to be imposing myself on them."

A UKIP spokeswoman said: "These are alarming allegations.

"The party strongly believes in canvassing the public directly through knocking on doors, hustings and other forms of outreach and engagement."

BBC Wales has made several attempts to contact Mr Bennett but he has not responded to requests for comment.

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