UK Politics

Nigel Farage 'can't stand having bodyguards'

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Media captionNigel Farage: "I can't stand it. I've always been a free spirit"

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage says he is facing the threat of violence from organisations "headed up by senior Labour Party figures".

Mr Farage told the BBC he "can't stand" having to travel with bodyguards as he has "always been a free spirit".

He denied accusing Labour of organising violence but said some trade union-funded anti-fascist groups had "acted in a violent way more than once".

Hope not Hate and Unite against Fascism both rejected Mr Farage's claims.

BBC Sunday Politics host Andrew Neil had asked Mr Farage about the impact on family life of having to travel with four bodyguards.

Mr Farage said: "I can't stand it. I've always been a free spirit that's wandered about the place and done my own thing.

"Sadly we have a a couple of organisations out there headed up by senior Labour Party figures, who purport to be against fascism and extremism, who receive funding from the Department of Communities, who receive funding from the trade unions, who have acted in a violent way more than once."

Asked if he was accusing the Labour Party of organising the violence, he said: "No. I said Unite against Fascism and Hope not Hate are taxpayer-funded, they are trade union-funded, they are headed up by very senior Labour figures.

"I'm perfectly happy for them to come to my meetings and have an argument with me but it's not so much fun when they're banging you over the head with banners."

Racist adverts

The Hope Not Hate campaign group, whose patrons include Labour peer Baroness Kinnock, said Mr Farage's claim that he faced the threat of violence from its members was "wrong".

The group's spokesman, Duncan Cahill, said: "Nigel Farage once more gets the facts wrong. We want people to vote against him and it's as simple as that."

Unite Against Fascism, whose officers include the Labour MP Peter Hain said it "completely refutes" claims by Mr Farage that he faces the threat of violence from the group.

Mr Hain said the UKIP leader's claims were "nonsense" and said he was "proud" to be part of the organisation.

Its joint national secretary, Weyman Bennett, said that if UKIP "put up racist advertisements" and its candidates made homophobic comments, "a large proportion of the population will find exception to it".

"If he's unpopular it's because he's been using the politics of scapegoating and that has brought a response from the very people he's been targeting," he said.

He added: "It's astonishing a politician would attack an anti-racist, anti-fascist organisation rather than deal with the fact that by playing the race card, he's igniting the same issue as Enoch Powell."

Mr Bennett also denied the organisation had received any government funding. He said Unite Against Fascism would be writing to Mr Farage to demand that he retract his claims.