“It is ridiculous”, says Page. “I did exactly what I was told by UKIP staff – yet I was the one who got penalized and not the staff. It is clear that there are people at the top of UKIP who did not want me to stand in case I was voted to the top of the list. In my view I have been well and truly “stitched up”. It has, it seems, been a Banana Republic election – apparently having much in common with a Zimbabwean election. I even knew what the result would be before one vote had been cast. There is so much sleaze in UKIP at the moment with people being investigated by the police and OLAF (the European Anti-Fraud Office) for a number of alleged offences – I think the hierarchy wanted to prevent me from standing in case I won a place at Brussels and saw how some of them behave. It is a disgrace; the whole thing has been run like a Zimbabwean election – even the UKIP Returning Officer – former Tory MP Piers Merchant is appalled – but claims he cannot do anything about it: “I seem not to have been given the powers to call the election off”, he says, “but shall be preparing a full report in which I will highlight several areas of inadequacy and also cases such as yours, which need a proper investigation”.
Page further alleges that because of the flawed election process several local UKIP branches are refusing to help with next year’s European Elections. He adds:
“UKIP won seats at the last European Elections promising to fight European sleaze and corruption. Sadly some of those elected seem to have enjoyed the European Gravy Train so much that large dollops of sleaze could well have rubbed off on them. It is a tragedy – UKIP had a real chance to make a difference this time round – the electorate needs UKIP. Instead UKIP has become ineffective and, through the antics of some MEPs, it has become a laughing stock. One MEP is reported to have said: “Robin Page must be stopped” – and I have been. I am today suggesting to those two UKIP members who topped the flawed UKIP poll for the Eastern Region, that if they have real integrity they will withdraw from the European elections until a proper re-r un for ALL UKIP candidates is held”.UPDATE: UKIP has hit back and sent me this statement from Christopher Gill, the overseer of the election process...
"Let us be absolutely clear about one thing - the reason that Robin Page is not a candidate for UKIP at the forthcoming EP election is because he failed to get his application in on time in spite of being given an extended deadline in which to do so. As a potential candidate it was entirely his responsibility to ensure that all relevant paperwork was deposited with Head Office on time - it was not!
"Robin Page can fantasise about conspiracies for as long as he likes but nothing alters the fact that, in spite of having been granted extra time, he excluded himself from the selection process by his own inaction. Robin Page had exactly the same amount of notice as all other candidates to get his application in by the close of nominations on 16th May but the plain fact of the matter is that he failed to do so, notwithstanding the leeway that he was given in which to do so.
UKIP Press Officer Tim Worstall adds: "The truth of the matter is that we gave Robin Page a fortnight of extra time, time unavailable to other candidates, such was our regard for him and our interest in his standing. That he failed to make use of it is something we regret but not, in our opinion, something that justifies his intemperate accusations of today."