SENIOR UKIP figures did not play any part in the decision to withdraw support for the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Chester, say city branch members.
Richard Lowe, who works in Flintshire, had been chosen to stand as the UK Independence Party candidate for Chester in the next general election.
But he resigned last week following a meeting with Chester branch members.
Mr Lowe claims he was forced to quit because his public support for same-sex marriage clashed with UKIP policy.
His letter supporting gay marriage was published in the Leader’s sister paper the Standard and he has suggested city branch members were put under pressure by senior party figures.
But UKIP Chester branch chairman Peter Lowe said that was simply not true.
He said Mr Lowe, who is no relation, lost the support of branch members because his letters and postings on social network Twitter contradicted party policy.
He said: “Around Christmas time last year I was contacted by a party member in a neighbouring constituency who was concerned about a number of ‘tweets’ posted by our prospective parliamentary candidate Richard Lowe.
“These gave the impression that a number of core UKIP policies, the most important being the European Union, were not being given his wholehearted support.
“Subsequently I arranged a meeting of local party officials, including Richard, in an effort to clarify the apparent points of disagreement.”
Peter Lowe said he became aware the letter supporting same-sex marriage had been published in the Standard about two hours before the meeting.
“I took the newspaper to the meeting and showed it to the other party officials who also were unaware of its contents,” he said.
“I want to emphasise that the letter was sent to the Press without reference to or prior knowledge of any local party official and is contrary to party policy which states that it does not oppose civil partnerships between two people of the same sex, but believes that the institution of marriage is a union between a man and a woman.
“During the course of the discussion the party officials expressed the view that they were unable to support his candidacy while Richard was posting ‘tweets’ on a number of issues which appeared to contradict party policy.
“It was at this point that Richard tendered his resignation, which was accepted with much regret particularly in view of the hard work and input which he had given while a member of UKIP Chester.”
Richard Lowe’s resignation came less than 48 hours after the chairman of UKIP’s youth organisation said he was sacked for his views on same-sex marriage.