UKIP hit by suspensions, resignation ahead of May vote
Britain's eurosceptic, anti-immigration UK Independence Party (UKIP) was in turmoil Friday after two candidates for May's general election were suspended and another quit.
One of the party's members in the European Parliament, Janice Atkinson, was suspended after allegations that a member of her staff obtained a fake invoice from a restaurant with the intention of overcharging on EU expenses.
Police are investigating the alleged fraud, which UKIP leader Nigel Farage said appeared to be "one of the most incredibly stupid and dishonest things I've ever seen in my life."
Atkinson was due to challenge an MP for Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party in the southeastern English constituency of Folkestone and Hythe on May 7.
But she has been removed from the list of candidates while UKIP investigates the allegations, and will face a disciplinary panel on Monday.
UKIP has also suspended its parliamentary candidate for Scunthorpe in northeastern England, Stephen Howd, pending an investigation into an alleged "incident" at his workplace.
Meanwhile Jonathan Stanley, UKIP's candidate for Westmorland and Lonsdale in the Lake District, resigned after reporting "open racism and sanctimonious bullying" in the party.
Cameron, who looks set to lose a handful of seats to UKIP in the election, said it was "just the latest in a whole set of catastrophic blunders, disasters, missteps by this party."
Once a fringe movement, UKIP recorded the largest share of the vote of any British party in European Parliamentary elections in May 2014 and secured its first two seats in the British parliament late last year.
The populist party appeals to voters from both the Conservative party and the opposition Labour party with its warnings about immigration, which it says can only be controlled if Britain leaves the European Union.
However, as scrutiny of UKIP has increased, so too have the embarrassing incidents involving its candidates.
Atkinson had previously hit the headlines for describing a Thai constituent and member of UKIP as a "ting tong".
© 2015 AFP