The girlfriend of ex-Ukip leader Henry Bolton says her claim Grenfell Tower was a “nest of illegal immigrants” was supposed to kick-start a conversation about migration – not cause offence.
In a cringe-worthy interview on ITV’s This Morning, Jo Marney was confronted with racist and other offensive comments she had made on social media and in messages to friends.
Marney, a model who started a relationship with Bolton days after he left his wife over Christmas, repeatedly claimed that she had not meant to cause offence with her comments – which included saying Prince Harry’s fiancée Meghan Markle would “taint” the royal family.
Bolton, who appeared alongside his girlfriend, sought to blame the comments on the atmosphere created by social media platforms.
Their appearance on the This Morning sofa came five days after Bolton was kicked out as Ukip leader by party members after just five months in charge.
Presented with comments from a Facebook rant in which she made offensive remarks about the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Marney said: “The language that I used was not good, not good at all. I didn’t mean to cause offence but I think in a wider, broader context of the things that I said I think these are things that we need to be discussing.”
She added: “It was a shocking thing to say.”
What asked if she meant her comments, Marney replied: “I mean what I said that there is an issue with illegal immigration in this country and it’s something we should be discussing.”
Bolton then tried to back up his girlfriend, by saying: “The Home Office has offered a year’s amnesty to illegal immigrants who were in that tower and survived and there’s a lot of evidence to show that there are a lot of bodies that are unidentified because they were illegal.
“There is an issue. Jo has used emotive language but actually we shouldn’t allow that to take us away from the problem.”
On her comments about Meghan Markel, as well as messages saying she wouldn’t have sex “with a Negro” and black people are “ugly”, Marney admitted: “It doesn’t sound very nice, no.”
She added: “I think my comments about her were disgusting. They were meant to shock and they were private and I never intended them to be put in the public eye.
“The things that I said were meant to shock, they don’t reflect my real views.”
Bolton again tried to defend his girlfriend, telling hosts Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby: “There is a context to this.
“There are people on social media and we all know it who say things on social media that they would never say…they say things anonymously or they say privately on social media that they would never ever dream of saying more broadly.”
Prior to their appearance, Ukip announced Bolton had quit the party.