Nigel Farage has defended a former UKIP candidate who was recorded using a derogatory word about Chinese people by saying "a lot of people would use" it.
Kerry Smith stood down as the candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock in 2015 after a recording emerged of him using the term and other offensive language about gay people.
The UKIP leader said he would never use the term but "a lot of people would".
He said he was a "bit sorry" for Mr Smith, calling him a "rough diamond".
But Mr Farage told LBC Radio that Mr Smith - who resigned from UKIP after the recorded comments were published in a Sunday newspaper - was "not a suitable candidate" for the party and the remarks had been "loutish".
Mr Smith, who stood for the party in the 2010 general election, has apologised for the remarks, in which he referred to a woman as a "chinky bird" and to "old poofter groups".
The party said the comments were made some time ago after he had been prescribed sedatives after an injury. But Mr Smith has insisted that the language was no worse than used on TV shows like Only Fools and Horses.
Asked about the use of the word "chinky" on his regular radio phone-in by presenter Nick Ferrari, Mr Farage replied: "If you and your mates are going out for a Chinese, what would you say you are going for?"
When challenged further, the UKIP leader said he would never use that word but "a lot of people would".
Mr Farage accepted that Mr Smith's comments were "loutish" but he insisted they were not made with malice.
"I'm a bit sad, because Kerry Smith is a rough diamond," he said. "He's a council house boy from the East End of London, left school early and talks and speaks in a way that a lot of people from that background do.
"I feel a bit sorry for Kerry Smith, because I think he's a genuine fellow."
He added: "I think we are very snobbish in London about condemning people for the colloquial language they use, particularly if it's not meant with really unpleasant intent.
"Kerry himself said that he used language that Del Boy used to use on Only Fools and Horses, and nobody objected then."
Separately, UKIP has suspended its Lambeth and North Croydon constituency party "pending the outcome of an internal inquiry into its activities".
But the party has said the ex-chairman of the branch, Winston McKenzie, remains its general election candidate for Croydon North in 2015.