An ex-Ukip councillor suspended from the party for making a joke about 71 migrants who died in a lorry is campaigning for Paul Nuttall in Stoke.
Ukip suspended Richard Broughan, who now sits on Stoke City Council as an independent, in September 2015 after he sent a tweet mocking those who died in refrigerated lorry in Austria a month earlier.
Replying to a section on Channel 4’s The Last Leg show, Broughan tweeted: “#IsItOk to ask migrants to ‘chill out’ following the Austrian refrigerated lorry incident?”
He later quit the party, citing disagreements with the local branch over campaigning tactics.
However, Broughan was today spotted by Huff Post UK walking into Ukip’s Stoke Central by-election HQ wearing a party rosette.
In an interview with Huff Post UK, he confirmed he was back campaigning for the party, and even claimed he had received the blessing of Ukip leader Paul Nuttall following a meeting in a pub last month.
Speaking about the tweet to Huff Post UK in a cafe next to Ukip’s Stoke HQ, Broughan said: “It was blown out of proportion and it only came to the media’s attention several months after it was made. It’s not something I would allow on a Twitter account now. It’s a learning curve.
“I don’t regret being with a mate…the hashtag was ‘is it ok?’. I wasn’t saying that it’s ok. I wasn’t condoning the question.”
Broughan said he initially considered standing as an independent in the by-election, caused by the resignation of Labour’s Tristram Hunt, but decide against it when Nuttall was announced as Ukip’s candidate as “I thought it would be ridiculous to split the vote.”
He added: “I still have a lot of contacts within the party. When I really started to throw myself into it was Friday night when I met up with Paul in a pub locally and we had a chat.”
Broughan said Nuttall was “well aware of the background” of his involvement with Ukip but was happy for him to help out in the by-election.
Lib Dem MP John Pugh said: “This man puts our politics to shame.
“Ukip should sack him today, no ifs, no buts, and make clear he will play no part in their by-election campaign.”
This afternoon, both Nuttall and Ukip MEP Patrick O’Flynn claimed not to recognise Broughan as he walked past them into the party’s HQ wearing a purple rosette.
Ukip are yet to provide a comment to Huff Post UK on Broughan’s activities.