A Ukip councillor has refused to end his bid to become an MP after social media posts on accounts linked to him provoked a furious backlash online.
Accounts displaying Jeff Bray’s name carried messages which asked “would Jimmy Saville’s [sic] behaviour have been acceptable if he had been muslim [sic] ??”
Another post on Twitter said: “everyday I read of more terror attacks and rapes by people of muslim faith, yet white Christians are called racists for being appalled by it”.
Screenshots of a Facebook page which carried Bray’s name showed a message which read: ‘just read a site that says muslims burning poppies is “disrespectful” bollocks !! disrespectful my arse. scum, if i decicrated [sic] muslim culture in Iran i would be shot’.
It added: ‘not all muslims are terrerists [sic], but all terrerists are muslims’.
‘not all muslims are terrerists [sic], but all terrerists are muslims’ Post on account linked to Jeff Bray
They were widely shared on social media, with many deriding the views and opinions contained in the messages. Bray’s social media accounts have since been hidden from public view.
But speaking about the backlash, Bray told HuffPost UK on Tuesday: “I am in no way racist and I in no way have any problem with anybody. People are desperate to bring Ukip down.”
Asked about the messages he said: “I don’t know where they have come from. I’m not an expert on how people might alter messages on [social media].”
I don’t know where they have come from. I’m not an expert on how people might alter messages Jeff Bray told HuffPost
However Bray, who represents Ukip on Tendring District Council in Essex, admitted that some of the messages had been authored by him.
He said: “I don’t really have a comment on that question about [Jimmy] Savile, I asked if people would have been treated different.
“It was not written as a statement but as a question. I don’t remember getting any answers but it was a general question.
“I don’t recognise the message about poppies,” he added. “I don’t swear on social media [so] I’m a little bit surprised.”
Bray is expected to bid for selection in Clacton for the upcoming general election, a move last week backed by rumoured contender and millionaire Ukip donor Arron Banks.
Bray was heralded by Banks in a statement which said he would not stand against a local activist in a selection to become Ukip’s candidate.
Asked if the backlash gave him reason not to bid to become an MP, Bray said: “I’ve got no reason not [to stand].”
He added: “It’s really quite horrible. Just because I may have an opportunity to stand they do that to me. It’s horrible. It’s extremely upsetting.”
Clacton was home to the party’s only sitting MP, Douglas Carswell, who quit the party before June’s vote was called and has since said he will not stand in the upcoming election and will instead vote for the Conservatives.
Carswell helped Ukip secure a majority of more than 3,000 votes in Clacton at the 2015 general election.