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14 December 2014, 10:46
A Ukip general election candidate and Essex County Councillor has apologised for making a string of offensive remarks.
Kerry Smith, a member of both Essex County Council and Basildon District Council, was forced to issue a statement just days after being reinstated as the party's would-be MP in one of its top target seats.
He suggested that he had been under great stress at the time of the comments and taking strong pain killers.
In recordings of phone calls obtained by the Mail on Sunday, Mr Smith is said to have mocked gay party members as "poofters'', joked about shooting people from Chigwell in a "peasant hunt'' and referred to someone as a "Chinky bird''.
"I wish to issue a wholehearted and unreserved apology to those I have offended within the party and anyone else,'' he said after his words - which he said were from two-and-half years ago - were made public.
In a bid to explain his behaviour he noted that "at the time of this recording I was considering my resignation due to major management changes which I have since discovered I completely misread and misunderstood''.
"For the record I was also on a strong morphine based prescription medication for a back injury.''
He also accepted that claims he made in the calls about party leader Nigel Farage and other senior figures were "completely wrong'' and "fuelled by frustrations at the time''.
Mr Smith was deselected as the candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock in October - with Neil Hamilton, the former Tory minister who is now Ukip's deputy chairman, the most prominent of those in the frame to take the nomination.
But Mr Hamilton ended up endorsing the Essex county councillor in his hustings speech after Mr Smith was reinstated - leading the ex-Conservative to lash out at party insiders over a ``dirty tricks'' campaign being run against him.
His tirade against the "cancer at the heart of Ukip'' came after a letter from the party's finance committee about his expenses claims was leaked.
Mr Hamilton called for the party's national executive committee (NEC) to take action against those involved in the "black arts of selective briefing, misrepresentation and outright lies''.