From the Daily Express
UKIP has today stood by him after investigating. The party could not drop him as a candidate even if it wanted to as nominations closed on April 9.
Last night, he apologised and said he was only criticising extremists, not Muslims in general. The former pub landlord, now a coach driver, put a message on Facebook linking to an old news story about a then-Labour minister claiming the party had been infiltrated by a fundamentalist Muslim group that wanted to create an ‘Islamic social and political order’ in Britain.
Mr Latham posted his own remarks saying: “So the Muslims have infiltrated the Labour party. What a surprise. Who would have guessed such a thing was possible? The Labour Party of Diane Abbott and Harriet Harman infiltrated by the evil cult of Islam. Wow.”
A spokesman for UKIP said today: “UKIP notes that Steve Latham has apologised for his remark and explained that he was intending to criticise only extremists and not all Muslims. UKIP has many Muslim members, some of them candidates in this election, who fully support our positions on religion, immigration, culture and social cohesion, and clearly Mr Latham’s comment did not represent the party’s view.”
The comments come at a sensitive time for UKIP which yesterday launched its manifesto for the election. Party leader Nigel Farage set out plans for an early referendum on withdrawal from the European Union and a major reduction in immigration.
Mr Latham, who used to run the Scott Arms and Joker pubs in Great Barr, said he could not recall putting the post on Facebook when he was asked about it. But he said: “I wouldn’t have meant it about Islam itself. It would have been about the people causing problems.
“It’s just the extremists. And there are extremists in all faiths. All I can do is apologise. I meant no disrespect.”
Sandwell Council’s Labour leader Darren Cooper said: “This is an outrageous statement to make about someone else’s religion. I call on Nigel Farage to suspend Steve Latham as a Parliamentary candidate.”
UKIP is fielding candidates across the West Midlands.
The party gained councillors in Cannock Chase, Walsall, Sandwell and Wolverhampton and especially in Dudley, where it won seven seats. UKIP is on course to come at least second in Dudley North, revealed as one of its top 10 targets in the country.
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