Wales politics

Campaign against UKIP bid by Neil Hamilton 'a cancer'

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Media captionNeil Hamilton on his Welsh connections

Former Conservative MP Neil Hamilton has described a campaign against his bid to stand as an AM for UKIP as a "cancer" that needs to be "cleansed".

UKIP has launched an investigation after an anonymous leaflet criticising Mr Hamilton was sent to party members.

It described him as being "parachuted in" to the assembly contest and included what Mr Hamilton said were "libellous" claims about his past.

An email to UKIP members said the matter may be referred to police.

Mr Hamilton said he hoped to "liven things up" in an assembly he described as "the biggest sleeping pill that you could find in Wales".

The email, leaked to BBC Wales, also included a passage written by Neil Hamilton in which he said UKIP Wales has "degenerated" during the selection process.

"I know the vast majority of you will be shocked by the viciousness of this personal attack," he wrote.

"Please help me cleanse the party of this cancer and turn UKIP Wales into a fighting force to dominate Welsh politics."

Regional list

Mr Hamilton has told BBC Wales he has been selected to fight the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr constituency at the election.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Neil Hamilton (pictured with wife Christine) says he has been selected for a west Wales assembly seat

He is also in the running for a regional list slot.

Because of the proportional representation system, the regional seats are seen as the most winnable for UKIP.

Ballot papers have been sent to party members following a long-running row over how candidates would be picked.

The deadline for them to be returned is 4 March.

In 1994 the Guardian newspaper accused Neil Hamilton of taking money to ask questions in parliament on behalf of Mohamed al-Fayed .

A large amount of litigation followed. Mr Hamilton has always denied any wrongdoing.

'Sorry state'

In the email to party members, party official Piers Wauchope said: "Many of you have received an anonymous leaflet through the post concerning Neil Hamilton.

"The distribution of this leaflet is not only a breach of our campaigning rules, but was distributed with the aid of a UKIP database that could only have come from a source within the party.

"A full investigation will be made within the party, and if necessary the results will be handed over to the police.

"This election must be conducted within the rules, and I cannot have the election derailed by the criminal activity of a person or persons within the party."

In the email, Neil Hamilton said: "This libellous leaflet recycled a Guardian newspaper cutting from 1996, falsely claiming I took large sums of money as an MP to ask parliamentary questions.

"The Inland Revenue dismissed these allegations as lies after their top forensic accountants (the Special Compliance Office) completed an exhaustive two-year investigation of all Christine's and my financial affairs during ten tax years, 1987-97.

"The SCO also found that all my parliamentary expenses were legitimately claimed.

"The leaflet was distributed, using an up-to-date UKIP membership list. This raises disturbing questions about the probity of one or more party officials. It also shows the sorry state into which we as a party have degenerated in this election and the urgent need for reform."

BBC Wales has also seen Neil Hamilton's "pitch" to UKIP members ahead of the regional list selection.

In it he described himself as a "proud Welshman" and rejected claims he has been "parachuted in", saying: "I am no 'parachutist' into Wales and I resent that malicious abuse.

"I was selected months ago by an overwhelming majority as assembly candidate for Carmarthen East & Dinefwr.

"I want to use my experience of the wider world to free Wales from the tentacles of Brussels and make UKIP Wales a dynamic force."

He goes on to describe the impact he think he and the party can have in Cardiff Bay, adding: "I think I can make mincemeat of the mediocrities who litter the assembly."

'Useless talking shop'

Mr Hamilton told BBC Wales the assembly had "done nothing for Wales".

He said: "Who know what goes on inside the assembly? It's the biggest sleeping pill that you could find in Wales.

"What I want to do is liven things up, make an impact and introduce a bit of colour into the institution, to take the assembly to the people and get the people involved in the assembly.

"Instead of just making it a useless talking shop, let's do something with the assembly itself so that we can get things done in Wales for everybody's benefit."

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