A UKIP candidate who was set to contest the Sunderland Central seat in May’s General Election has resigned from his post and the party over a row about his military background.
Wearsider Paul Tweddle was selected by the party at the end of last year to contest the seat, which is held by Labour MP Julie Elliott.
UKIP is not for the Forces or the ordinary common person. They’re the type of party that do well in times of discontent.Paul Tweddle
But today, he told the Echo he has stepped down from the candidacy after the way he feels he has been dealt with by party officials.
Ukip bosses say that with all candidates, all claims about past careers must be checked and Mr Tweddle was asked to provide evidence, which he claims he did but then decided to resign instead.
Richard Elvin, who is standing as the Ukip candidate for Houghton and Sunderland South, told the Echo that Brian Foster will now stand for Sunderland Central. Mr Tweddle says after being selected through a rigorous process, bosses began to ask for documentation that he had served in the RAF as he said he had during hustings.
“I served in the RAF regulars and before that I was in the Parachute Regiment,” said Mr Tweddle, 50, of Ford Estate.
“I said that in the hustings when I was asked questions about myself but then I got a phone call from someone in the party asking me to provide discharge papers so I could prove it.
“They were demanding documentation so I had to send off to the MoD for them.”
Mr Tweddle, a qualified criminologist, said the actions of the officials led him to resign from the candidacy and end his Ukip membership.
He says although he is currently not a member of any party, he will be supporting Labour at May’s elections.
“Ukip is not for the Forces or the ordinary common person,” added Mr Tweddle.
“They’re the type of party that do well in times of discontent.
“Most people would never look at these parties most of the time, never mind join them.
“I’m proud of Sunderland and the North East and I don’t think these people have any intention of representing the people of this area properly.”
A Ukip spokesman said: “It was agreed with Mr Tweddle that he would not stand as the candidate for Sunderland Central.”
The Sunderland branch of Ukip was formed in 2011.
The party has contested most seats in the city’s council election since then but has failed to win any.