Shropshire Star

Farage claims Reform UK has been ‘stitched up’ over candidate vetting

Nigel Farage said Reform had paid ‘a large sum of money’ to a firm to scrutinise its candidates but has been let down.

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Reform UK leader Nigel Farage

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage has claimed his party has been “stitched up” by a firm it contracted to vet candidates.

The party has been hit by a series of revelations about the online activities of some of its would-be MPs, from links to a British fascist leader to suggestions the UK should have remained neutral in the fight against the Nazis and admiration of Hitler’s “brilliant” ability to inspire action.

Mr Farage said Reform had paid a “large sum of money” to the vetting firm, but claimed the party has been let down.

General Election campaign 2024
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage said the party has been ‘stitched up’ over vetting of candidates (Ben Birchall/PA)

The Telegraph reported that Vetting.Com had been paid £144,000 to weed out parliamentary candidates with extremist views.

The firm told the newspaper that its working assumption had been that it would have had the summer to complete the work, but Rishi Sunak called the General Election for July 4, rather than the autumn, as most in Westminster had expected.

Mr Farage told LBC Radio: “Have we had trouble with one or two candidates? Yes, we have.

“We paid a large sum of money to a well-known vetting company, and they didn’t do the work.

“We have been stitched up politically, and that’s given us problems. And I accept that and I’m sorry for that.”

He dismissed as “utter nonsense” questions about candidate Jack Aaron, who is standing against Defence Secretary Grant Shapps in Welwyn Hatfield, over comments about Hitler’s personality traits.

Mr Aaron said in a social media post in 2022 that Hitler “was basically incoherent in his writing and rationale” but was “brilliant” at using specific personality traits “to inspire people into action”.

Asked about the suggestion that Mr Aaron thought Hitler was “brilliant”, Mr Farage said: “This is utter nonsense. It’s rather like… if you asked me, you know, was Hitler a good public speaker? And I say yes – suddenly I’m a supporter.

“This is nonsense.”

Mr Aaron told The Times: “Yes, Hitler was as brilliant as he was utter evil. How is that controversial to say, given that he was able to turn the Germans to such destructive acts, including killing many members of my own family?

“I strongly believe, as a psychologist, in separating intelligence and talent from morality, so that we can adequately diagnose problems and help people.”

The Times also reported that Queens Park and Maida Vale candidate Angela Carter-Begbie questioned the King’s loyalty to Britain, claiming he was “under the WEF” – a reference to the World Economic Forum, which hosts the annual Davos meeting for global leaders and businesses.

She is reported to have said it was “about time King Charles show where he truly lye (sic)”, adding that she was “not a fan”.

Last week Mr Farage suggested the earlier-than-expected timing of the General Election meant vetting had not been possible.

“Don’t forget, I’ve come in right at the last minute, we have not had time to do full vetting of candidates. It’s been impossible for us,” he said.

Vetting.Com is co-owned by Colin Bloom, who was a faith adviser in Boris Johnson’s No 10, but the firm insisted it was “politically neutral”.

A spokesman for the firm told the Telegraph: “Some months ago, we approached all the major UK political parties offering our automated background screening services. We were delighted to be asked to help Reform.

“Everyone’s working assumption was that the election would be in the autumn, giving us the summer to complete this work. Given the explicit need for candidate consent, as well as our systems needing basic personal data like dates of birth, our automated software was not able process Reform’s candidates with the data that was provided when it was provided.

“We do not intend to litigate this in public, and we send Reform our best wishes as they shake up the UK political landscape.

“Mr Bloom has not had anything to do with the UK Conservative Party since 2022 and remains politically neutral.”

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