UK Politics

Ex-UKIP party secretary Matt Richardson returns to role

Nigel Farage speaking last week at the party's South East conference Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Nigel Farage speaking last week at the party's South East conference

One of the senior UKIP figures who was forced to resign after in-fighting in the party following the general election has returned to his job as party secretary.

Matt Richardson has been reinstated to the role after UKIP's national executive committee approved it.

The move is likely to be greeted with criticism from some in the party who attacked him and a circle of advisers around Nigel Farage in the wake of UKIP's failure to win more seats in the election.

In a brief statement to the BBC, UKIP said: "Matt has resumed the role... by law any constituted political party must have a party secretary who is a qualified lawyer."

The decision has echoes of Nigel Farage's resignation - and swift reversal of that decision - after he failed to become an MP in South Thanet.

Mr Richardson was one of two key advisers who left in May.

The other adviser who left, Raheem Kassam, has returned to his job as a journalist at Breitbart News Network.

But he continues to meet Nigel Farage and speak out publicly on his behalf.

'Dragging him down'

The pair of advisers were at the centre of internal fighting in UKIP after the party's election chief and economy spokesman Patrick O'Flynn launched a very personal attack on Nigel Farage.

He told The Times newspaper that during the election UKIP's leader had appeared to be turning into a "snarling, thin-skinned, aggressive" man.

Mr O'Flynn subsequently resigned.

Some senior figures, including Mr O'Flynn, blamed Mr Richardson and Mr Kassam for persuading Nigel Farage to adopt a more outspoken tone during the election campaign, with similarities to the Republican-linked Tea Party in the US.

One told the BBC that they were "dragging him down".

The party's only MP was also critical of Mr Richardson's role in a row over whether the party should take £650,000 a year in "short money", which opposition parties are entitled to.

Douglas Carswell said Matt Richardson had come to him with a plan to recruit more than a dozen staff in his parliamentary office, something which the Clacton MP rejected.

Nigel Farage has since replaced another prominent figure from the election campaign, Suzanne Evans, as UKIP policy chief. The former MP Mark Reckless is now in that role.

She had defended Patrick O'Flynn as "brave" following his comments and her future in the party is still unclear.

There was also a shake-up in the party's press operation, with the director of communications departing and a new senior press spokesman appointed.

The former BBC producer Paul Lambert left the communications role after the election and no replacement has been announced.

Mr Farage also appointed a new senior press spokesman, elevating Michael Heaver to the job.

The BBC has approached several senior figures in UKIP for comment on the re-appointment but none of them responded.

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