Hope Not hate in Spalding

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Campaigners who sparked a police probe into alleged racism posts on social network pages of three UKIP county councillors will hold a public meeting in Spalding.

The anti-race hate group Hope Not Hate published screen-grabs of a series of offensive comments that appeared on the Facebook pages of Spalding businessman Alan Jesson, UKIP’s county council group leader Chris Pain and Boston member Tiggs Keywood-Wainwright.

Its Spalding meeting at 7pm on July 3 is provisionally listed to take place at the railway station, but a key member said the real venue will be kept under wraps until the last minute to stop possible disruption from far-right groups such as the EDL and BNP.

Spalding South Ward councillor Alan Jesson claims he and fellow UKIP councillors had their Facebook accounts hacked and a series of offensive posts are not theirs.

UKIP’s own leadership meets on Monday and party leader Nigel Farage said there will be a “full debate” and urged people not to judge the councillors before then.

Mr Farage said: “We have one or two people who say unguarded things on Facebook and certainly social media does lead to people saying things they don’t always mean. If cases come up with people persistently posting unpleasant stuff we will act.”

Mr Farage says some people have been trying to label his party as racist, but it won’t stick.

He said: “They have been trying to do it for years but it has never ever stuck and it won’t stick.

“That’s not what we are about – we are a party that attracts quite a lot of ethnic minority voters and have quite a lot of ethnic minority candidates.”

On vetting of candidates, Mr Farage said: “To a large extent they were people that we knew. They were all asked to make declarations that they had never been members of extreme groups so we did cover our bases by making them sign declarations.

“But we don’t have the manpower to vet social media pages.”

Mr Jesson believes he and fellow UKIP councillors were singled out by the Left Wing after they took part in what he termed “uncontrolled immigration” marches.

He claimed: “Somehow our Facebook accounts have been infiltrated and they have changed words and added comments that are not ours.”

Hope Not Hate journalist and researcher Simon Cressy said: “The hacking defence isn’t a new one – it’s the one that the BNP have been using for a number of years.”

The campaign group says it “mobilises everyone opposed” to the BNP’s and EDL’s politics of hate and it has the backing of The Daily Mirror, trades unions, celebrities and community groups.

It will hold a public meeting in Boston on June 5 and one in Lincoln the following day.

Mr Cressy said anyone wanting to attend the meetings in Lincolnshire should first register on www.hopenothate.org,uk