Farage condemns protest threat

Nigel Farage has claimed he needs bodyguards due to the threat of violence from anti-fascist organisations headed up by senior Labour figures.

Nigel Farage has condemned the often violent nature of protests against him
Nigel Farage has condemned the often violent nature of protests against him

The UK Independence Party leader suggested Labour figures who position themselves as anti-fascist are leading groups whose members violently protest at his public meetings.

Describing himself as a "free spirit" who cannot stand having protection, Mr Farage said the "taxpayer and trade union-funded" groups Unite Against Facism and Hope Not Hate are using force at Ukip events.

He told BBC One's Sunday Politics: "I can't stand it. I've always been a free spirit that's wandered around the place and done my own thing.

"I'm afraid that the level of threat has... sadly we have 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 for Communities (& Local Government), who receive funding from the trade unions who have acted in a violent way more than once.

"Unite Against Facism and Hope Not Hate are taxpayer-funded, they are trade union-funded, and they are headed up by very senior Labour Party 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 are banging me over the head with banners."

Meanwhile, the Ukip leader also claimed most over-70s in Britain are uncomfortable about homosexuality.

Mr Farage was defending Ukip's candidate for the upcoming Newark by-election Roger Helmer, who has been at the centre of a row over his alleged homophobia after suggesting some people find same-sex relationships "distasteful if not viscerally repugnant".

He told the programme: "When Roger grew up, and indeed when he was an adult, homosexuality was illegal in this country and he held that view for some period of time.

"And actually if we asked 70s and over in this country how they felt about it, most of them still feel uncomfortable.

"He has said the world has moved on, he now accepts there has been a big social change in Britain and he's relaxed about it."

Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Ed Davey described Mr Farage as "a friend of criminals" because Ukip's desire to leave the European Union would end successful cross-border co-operation on crime.

The Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister told LBC Radio 97.3 FM: " Nigel Farage - his position on the co-operation with European colleagues on crime - he is almost a friend of criminals.

"Because of the co-operation that we have with our European partners on tackling crime, with Europol, Eurojust, the European Arrest Warrant, we have been far more successful in the last few years in tackling some appalling criminals, the world's worst criminals - drug traffickers, human traffickers, murderers, rapists, paedophiles - the people who previously before this European co-operation on crime, they used to skip borders.

"They would leave Britain. They would go to Spain. Do you remember Costa Del Crime? Costa Del Crime - gone. Gone because of our co-operation with our other European countries.

"If you talk to Nigel Farage, do you know what he says? He says, 'well we have got Interpol'.

"Interpol is useless compared to Europol. I think Interpol has a place but it is more or less a fax machine that is for sharing information.

"But by the closer co-operation we have - speeding up extradition procedures for example, sharing intelligence - we are able to tackle these serious criminals. Ukip would put that at risk. Why?"