Girlfriend of Ukip leader suspended after 'racist' Meghan Markle remarks

Press Association
Henry Bolton with Jo Marney in a picture posted on Twitter by Marney in December

The girlfriend of Ukip leader Henry Bolton has been suspended from the party after reportedly making racist remarks about Meghan Markle.

Jo Marney, 25, sent a series of messages to a friend in which she made highly offensive comments about Prince Harry's fiancee and black people, according the Mail on Sunday.

In a statement to the paper, Ms Marney said she apologised "unreservedly" for the "shocking language" used in the messages, but said they had been "taken out of context".

Mr Bolton, 54, whose relationship with Ms Marney is under investigation by the party, said on Sunday that she had been suspended "immediately upon us receiving this information".

The Ukip leader sent the message in reply to a young party member who urged him to publicly call for Ms Marney to have her membership removed.

"She has to go or he and UKIP are doomed if we let this behaviour happen in the party," the teenage activist said.

Profile | Henry Bolton

Peter Whittle, leader of Ukip's delegation in the London Assembly, also called for Ms Marney to be "expelled altogether" for the "disgraceful remarks".

Meanwhile former Ukip leadership candidate Ben Walker called for Mr Bolton to resign, accusing him of having "deeply flawed judgement".

Party chairman Paul Oakden said he decided to suspend Ms Marney's party membership immediately after he was made aware of the messages.

"Ukip does not, has not and never will condone racism," he told the Mail on Sunday.

The report of Ms Marney's use of highly offensive language about people from different ethnic backgrounds comes as Mr Bolton faces an investigation into his controversial private life by senior party officials.

 UKIP Leader Henry Bolton and Jo Marney Credit: Steve Finn

Mr Bolton left wife Tatiana, 42, who gave birth to their second daughter at London's St Pancras station in 2016 after going into labour on a train, prior to his relationship with Ms Marney becoming public in early January.

The Ukip leader confirmed that he had a "change in my relationship status" in recent weeks, although denied reports that it had involved "a clandestine affair with a young lady who happens also to be a member of Ukip".

He said he had already made clear on social media that he had recently been spending time "with somebody who has become increasingly important to me".

On Sunday he was accused on Twitter of being in Ms Marney's company when he appeared on television in mid-October.

He tweeted: "Utterly false! Photo taken by Gawain Towler (Ukip communications official). The woman just in shot is a BBC staffer."

In a letter to members, Mr Oakden said the National Executive Committee ruling body agreed to discuss the leader's private life at a special meeting in January.

Henry Bolton with his wife Tatiana Smurova-Bolton Credit: PA

On Sunday a teenage activist called on Mr Bolton to back calls for Ms Marney to be expelled from Ukip.

"If -HenryBolton truly cares about UKIP he will publicly call for Jo Marney removal from the party her words were blatantly racist and there should be no room for that in UKIP," the young party member said.

"Also it would be hypocritical to allow her to stay... because he said in the leadership election he was the candidate against racism and nazis so she has to go or he and UKIP are doomed if we let this behaviour happen in the party."

"Jo was suspended immediately upon us receiving this information," Mr Bolton tweeted in reply.

"The opinions I expressed were deliberately exaggerated in order to make a point and have, to an extent, been taken out of context. Yet I fully recognise the offence they have caused," Ms Marney said in a statement.

On her Twitter profile Ms Marney describes herself as a model, actor and journalist, as well as a Brexiteer.

Mr Bolton was elected Ukip leader last September.

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