Monday, January 10

The way they were

Derby branch of the United Kingdom Independence Party has declared itself a "Robert Kilroy-Silk-free zone" following a bitter split which led to numerous resignations.

East Midlands MEP Mr Kilroy-Silk has been blamed by UKIP members nationwide for causing a rift in the party over his leadership challenge against Roger Knapman.

The split led to the resignation from UKIP's Derby branch of city councillor for Boulton ward Frank Leeming and several other members, as revealed in the Evening Telegraph in December. Mr Leeming is now an independent councillor.

Mr Leeming had claimed that the Derby UKIP branch chairman David Black had "doctored" the minutes of October's branch meeting by failing to record members' calls for an extraordinary general meeting in support of Mr Kilroy-Silk's leadership challenge.

Mr Black strenuously denied the allegation.In an effort to "set the record straight" Mr Black has now issued a statement to the Evening Telegraph declaring that the minutes have been "checked for accuracy" and are "freely available to any interested parties".

Following a branch meeting this week, Mr Black said: "I can now confirm that we've reconstituted the Derby City branch as a Robert Kilroy-Silk-free zone."

"It appears the only attempt at 'doctoring' official branch minutes was by the few supporters of Robert Kilroy-Silk, who are now history as far as our Derby City branch is concerned.

"He added: "We've conducted our business fully in accordance with the national party's constituency association rules and are poised to take our branch forward to positive effect in future local, parliamentary and Euro elections."

Mr Kilroy-Silk, who has resigned the UKIP whip as an MEP but still remains a member of the party, said yesterday: "There's no such thing as a Robert Kilroy-Silk-free zone in my constituency.

"As far as Derby is concerned, I think you will find the majority of people in the branch have left.

"The rest of them represent nobody but themselves."

Mr Leeming estimated that nine of the "12 to 14 Derby branch members" who regularly attended meetings had resigned.

But he said: "As far as I'm concerned, UKIP is a disgraced party that has lost its integrity, especially in the East Midlands.

"Too many have left, they've left in their hundreds. I've nothing to do with UKIP now. I'm not interested in it."

Mr Kilroy-Silk said his party leadership challenge was continuing.

He said: "There will be things happening in the next couple of weeks."He added that in the next few weeks he would also be announcing in which constituency he would be standing in this year's UK General Election.

He confirmed it would be somewhere in the East Midlands but would neither confirm nor deny rumours that he planned to challenge Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon in his Ashfield constituency in Nottinghamshire.

Source: This is Derbyshire, 8 January 2005

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