Tory candidate Afzal Amin denies 'fake EDL march' claim

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Media caption,
Afzal Amin told the BBC: "It was an exercise in conflict resolution"

A Conservative election candidate who has been suspended by his party has said he did not seek a "fake" English Defence League march to win votes.

The Mail on Sunday reported Afzal Amin plotted to persuade the EDL to announce a march in Dudley North and then to scrap it to allow him to take credit.

He told the BBC his idea would have been a "catalyst to bring people together" and denied a "deception".

A Tory party spokesman said Mr Amin had been suspended "with immediate effect".

Mr Amin has been accused of secretly organising the march with the EDL in Dudley North - where he was standing as Conservative candidate at the general election - to gain popularity.

'Resolve tensions'

In return, he allegedly said he would be an "unshakeable ally" for the EDL in parliament.

He was reportedly filmed by EDL founder Tommy Robinson, who said Mr Amin had sought to "use" the organisation.

Speaking to the BBC in Dubai, Mr Amin said: "The point was to announce a march that would bring people together to discuss, and through discussions, tensions would be resolved."

BBC's Mark Lobel, in Dubai

Mr Amin looked surprisingly relaxed as he joked he'd been in far worse battles before - referring to his years in the Army.

He said that longstanding commitments had forced him to stick to his travel plans and fly here last night despite the ensuing political storm.

After our interview, his eyes welled up but he insisted he wasn't ready to cry. He did admit that he was very upset and it was "heartbreaking".

His brother then took him away downstairs as they started to imagine out loud what the reception would be like when they return to the UK on Monday.

Mr Amin said tensions in Dudley had increased over plans for a new mosque, prompting him to speak with Muslim leaders and EDL members, including Tommy Robinson.

Mr Robinson suggested the march as a method of getting different communities to talk to each other.

The plan was an exercise in "conflict resolution", Mr Amin said, and was "very similar" to work he had seen in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He said there was always "a degree of stage management" when you tried to resolve conflict but denied a "deception".

"I wanted to see these two communities really learn more about each other through face-to-face discussion," he added.