Ukip has been thrown into more turmoil after David Coburn’s chief of staff insisted he did not “duck out” of a Dundee debate before admitting he skipped it because of a race row.
The under-fire MEP has been branded a liar after telling a journalist he “didn’t accept” the invitation to the hustings at Dundee and Angus College and organisers “were informed” of his no show.
Emails from his chief of staff Misty Thackeray, obtained by The Courier, prove he was signed up to take part.
An empty chair was left on stage in his place at the Gardyne campus just days after Mr Coburn spoke of sharing a panel with Scottish Government minister “Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza”.
Mr Thackeray admitted he had not told anyone at the college Mr Coburn would not be turning up.
He initially claimed Mr Coburn’s failure to appear was not because of hiscomparison of the internationaldevelopment minister to the convictedterrorist before conceding the politician was avoiding all public appearances after the controversy.
Pressed on the reason for Mr Coburn’sno show, he said: “David was not making any public statements or appearances.
“That’s not ducking out of anything. That’s standard practice.”
Mr Thackeray also apologised to thecollege, organisers and students, taking full responsibility for the situation and insisting he tried to find a replacement.
In a Twitter message, Mr Coburn said: “Incidentally I didn’t accept DundeeCollege debate they were informed.”
He failed to return calls from TheCourier, leaving Mr Thackeray to answer questions in his place.
In an emailed statement, a partyspokesman added: “Ukip had intended to take questions from the students at thecollege but due to other commitments was unable to attend.
“Due to an administration error it is possible that the host of the event was not aware of this on the night.”
Dundee and Angus College studentpresident Marc Winsland said: “For himto claim that he never confirmed hisattendance and that he would so brazenly lie about it to protect his own pride is frankly offensive.”
Ukip leader Nigel Farage talked down the comments about Mr Yousaf during a TV interview.
He said: “I can only guess he’s eithersaying he’s a terrorist or he’s telling a jokein poor taste. I suspect it’s a joke in poor taste.
“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.”
Both the SNP and Labour have called on Ukip to sack Mr Coburn but the party has so far resisted and he appeared at a debate in London last night.