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UKIP's Bill Etheridge speaks out over marriage break-up

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UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge has separated from his wife – but denied media reports that another woman was involved.

Mr Etheridge and his wife Star are both UKIP councillors in Dudley and were elected the same day last year.

They both unsuccessfully ran for Parliament this month contesting seats in the Black Country.

Newspaper reports named Lorraine Chew, a party worker from Wolverhampton, as Mr Etheridge's new partner.

But the 45-year-old MEP, speaking from Strasbourg, told the Express & Star: "Lorraine had nothing to do with the break-up of my marriage. Star and I separated some months ago.

He added: "There was no-one else involved. It sounds like a cliché but we just drifted apart. It's only afterwards that a relationship between me and Lorraine developed."

Mr and Mrs Etheridge, aged 43, have been married for more than seven years.

Mother-of-three Mrs Etheridge, UKIP's national disability spokesman, said: "I don't want to make any comment. I'm not going to confirm or deny anything to the Press."

Mr Etheridge said he had moved out of the home he shared with his wife in Tipton Street, Sedgley.

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The MEP said Lorraine Chew was not involved in the break-up

He said despite living apart the couple had put on a show of unity while campaigning in the General Election and added: "Our personal lives are entirely private. We are trying to do things as amicably as possible."

As well being a Member of the European Parliament Mr Etheridge represents Sedgley on Dudley Council while Mrs Etheridge represents Coseley East as a councillor.

Miss Chew made a bid to be a councillor in Wolverhampton's Ettingshall ward in the local elections on May 7.

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Nigel Farage at Himley Hall for a UKIP meeting with Bill Etheridge watching on

Mr Etheridge came third in Dudley North in his bid to become an MP having been tipped as the main challenger to Labour's Ian Austin throughout the election campaign.

Mrs Etheridge also finished third in her bid to become an MP.

Wolverhampton North East was retained by Labour's Emma Reynolds.

Mr and Mrs Etheridge hit the headlines in 2011 when they resigned from the Conservative Party after being suspended for posting pictures of themselves holding golliwog dolls on Facebook.

The couple, who campaign against political correctness, said they were trying to promote 'healthy debate' about whether the doll was a racist symbol. Mr Etheridge then joined UKIP as he claimed his right to express his views was being stifled.

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