Farage won’t discipline gay UKIP MEP who compared SNP minister to Abu Hamza

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Nigel Farage has ruled out disciplining UKIP MEP David Coburn for comparing an SNP minister to convicted terrorist Abu Hamza, saying it amounted to a “joke in poor taste”.

David Coburn, who is UKIP’s leader in Scotland and the party’s most senior gay politician, allegedly made the controversial remarks about Muslim MSP Humza Yousaf, who is Scottish Minister for Europe and International Development, earlier this month.

In a newspaper interview, Mr Coburn is alleged to have said: “Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza”.

Mr Yousaf called for European officials to discipline Mr Coburn.

He told BBC Scotland that the comments were “Islamophobic” and “among the worst racial slurs” he had ever received.

Despite issuing a lengthy apology to Mr Yousaf, Mr Coburn appeared to dismiss the row, telling the Scottish Sunday Mail: “It’s all bollocks.”

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson condemned the comments – while the SNP called for Mr Coburn to resign or be sacked.

But today UKIP leader Nigel Farage ruled out disciplining the MEP.

Speaking on the BBC’s Daily Politics programme Mr Farage said: “I haven’t spoken to David Coburn about it. I can only guess he’s either saying he’s a terrorist or he’s telling a joke in poor taste. I suspect it’s a joke in poor taste.

When asked if he would be taking action against Mr Coburn he said: “People do make mistakes. I don’t think David Coburn should have done that. But am I going to get terribly exercised about it? No.”

Mr Yousaf has written to Mr Farage demanding that Mr Coburn, who is Scotland’s only UKIP MEP, is expelled from the party.

The SNP MSP said he was taking legal advice on the matter.

Despite being gay, Mr Coburn is notorious for his critical remarks of the LGBT community.

In October last year, he branded supporters of same-sex marriage “equality Nazis”.

He has previously claimed that “neo-right” activists are to blame for same-sex marriage, which he says “breeds” homophobia.

Last year, Mr Coburn was quoted as referring to Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, as a “fat lesbian” in a private conversation.