UKIP leadership hopeful denies leading smears on HIV patients

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UKIP leadership hopeful Raheem Kassam has denied responsibility for Nigel Farage’s HIV patient smears.

During his time as UK Independence Party leader, Mr Farage repeatedly came under fire for comments about HIV.

When asked which kinds of people should be allowed to enter the UK, Mr Farage said: “People who do not have HIV, to be frank. That’s a good start.”

Later, during the 2015 election debates, Farage claimed the UK is ‘incapable’ of treating people with HIV because of immigration, citing the high cost of HIV treatment.

Mr Farage’s former senior adviser Raheem Kassam, editor of right-wing outlet Breitbart UK, is now running for party leader himself after the resignation of short-lived leader Diane James.

Challenged by the BBC, Kassam denied he was responsible for the HIV debate line.

Responding to claims he had devised the ‘Shock and Awe’ tactic, he told the BBC’s Daily Politics: “It wasn’t me.”

He said: “I actually described them as Shocking and Awful.

“The point is, Nigel Farage got up on stage and unbeknownst to any of us, he made this statement.

“The statement is one of complete fact, by the way, and it was one that was intelligent to bring up in a discussion about the National Health Service, especially when we consider the NHS is turning into an international health service.

“However, I totally agree with some people who say it could have been done in a different way, it could have been done in a more tactful way.

“This was a statement… I’m not going to get into naming names, but there were other people in the party who briefed Nigel on that issue. It wasn’t me.”

Writing for Breitbart UK, Kassam has published a multitude of stories about the stance of Islam on LGBT rights – despite his own controversial views on LGBT issues.

Just months ago Mr Kassam was linked to a petition to protest “insidious political correctness” in UKIP after the suspension of a candidate who advocates ‘gay cure’ therapy.

The petition claimed it was written by anonymous ‘UKIP Members and Supporters for Free-Speech’ – but it was first circulated on social media by Mr Kassam, who also took to Breitbart to promote it.

Earlier this year Kassam bemoaned that former Prime Minister David Cameron’s legacy is “Freeing Terrorists And Gay Marriage”.

When a UKIP councillor suggested the party should pursue a more moderate approach on LGBT issues earlier this summer, Kassam claimed she wanted “Britons be ‘re-educated’ towards left-wing, LGBT, identity politics.”

Mocking a Pride-decorated police car last year, he wrote: “Would they ‘black up’ the car for a Black Power march? Would they daub a police car in crescents and stars for Ramadan? Would they (and I kind of don’t want the answer to this one) stick little yellow stars all over a blue patrol car to mark the European referendum? No? So why a gay police car then?”

The frontrunner in UKIP’s leadership election, MEP Steven Woolfe, may face suspension over an alleged ‘altercation’ with another MEP that left him hospitalised.