Published: 18:14, 18 May 2014 |
Updated: 15:40, 20 May 2014
One of UKIP's most senior members has been photographed giving an offensive hand gesture to protesters in Kent this weekend.
Janice Atkinson, who is the party's second-choice European candidate after leader Nigel Farage, was pictured giving a one-fingered salute to members of the People's Assembly in Ashford.
Tonight Ms Atkinson, speaking at UKIP's rally in Margate, said she 'was not proud' of the gesture, adding she had been upset at comments made by protesters about her party's members.
She added: "I was angry that some of our supporters including pensioners were being called racist bigots and fascists. I got angry but I don't regret it.'
Green Party member Maria Pizzey, who has posted the rude gesture on her Facebook page, said she and a small group of activists held a peaceful protest near Ms Atkinson who was supporting UKIP's Norman Taylor in Ashford town centre.
Ms Pizzey claims Ms Atkinson, who switched from the Conservative party to stand for UKIP, told the group to 'f-off' when they stood with placards accusing UKIP of racist policies.
Ms Pizzey said: "She made personal comments about my body size and when I told her I would quote her widely she said "I don't care where you f***ing post this, just f**k off!"
Ms Atkinson is second choice on UKIP's selected candidate list behind leader Nigel Farage. It means she will be elected if UKIP wins its predicted four or five seats in the South East in next Thursday's election.
Stuart Jeffrey, chairman of Kent Green Party and prospective parliamentary candidate for Maidstone and the Weald, posted: "UKIP's PR officer discussing policy with Ashford Greens. Why would anyone consider voting for her?"
Ms Atkinson is no stranger to courting criticism.
Only last week she claimed parts of Kent were becoming 'no-go' zones because of Eastern European immigrants.
She made the remark after police raids across the county into sexual exploitation gangs but was slapped down by the Liberal Democrats who said such comments could provoke vigilante attacks.
Asked if she considered her remarks to be alarmist, she said: “People have come to me with tales of intimidation and I try to persuade them to go public but they feel they can’t. It worries me.”
Don't miss out, subscribe today. Keep up to date with our newsletters.
A guide for your future. For year 11 students in Kent and Medway. Click here for the e-edition.
Education, Training & Childcare is a special supplement published by KM Media Group four times a year. Click here for latest e-edition.
Get the latest food and drink news, recipes from some of the nation's top chefs plus updates from Kent's vineyards and breweries.
Search in your local area to find your perfect partner in Kent, with FreshStart Dating! PLUS, register for free!.
Find out what's going on in the garden, with Kent expert Lucy Hewett's weekly update.
Buy pictures that you've seen in a KM newspaper, or send in a picture and we will place it on our photo sales website so that you can purchase a super, unique gift.