Ukip leader Gerard Batten hits back in row over his appearance at Sunderland rally

Police and demonstrators at last Saturday's event.
Police and demonstrators at last Saturday's event.

Ukip leader Gerard Batten has today defended his recent appearance at a Sunderland rally marred by scuffles with police.

Three people were arrested during separate demonstrations in the city centre last Saturday with one already behind bars.

Gerard Batten arriving at Ukips Birmingham conference.

Gerard Batten arriving at Ukips Birmingham conference.

Mr Batten's presence in apparent support of the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA), a group associated with far-right leanings, was criticised by former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

But Mr Batten has now hit back, saying his predecessor should be "a little bit more careful about criticising me" when he had himself shared platforms with right-wing German party Alternative fur Deutschland.

Speaking about his appearance in Sunderland, in which DFLA was supporting Wearside-based Justice for the Women and Children Group, Mr Batten added: "It was not an anti-Muslim rally, it was a rally for justice for women and children victims of sexual abuse".

Mr Batten, talking ahead of Ukip's party conference in Birmingham, continued: "Nigel is friends with Donald Trump, who a lot of people like to call names. Nigel has gone to speak on platforms with Alternative fur Deutschland, who a lot of people don't like and call names.

"He is entitled to do that, because they are democratic parties, and I am entitled to speak at rallies organised by people who believe in democracy.

"I think maybe he should be a little bit more careful about criticising me, because he has done similar things."

Hundreds of people involved with Sunderland Unites and Stand Up To Racism North East, including members of trade unions, political parties and politicians, turned out in Keel Square last Saturday in a show of unity against racism in the city.

Organisers intended it as a counter demonstration to the DFLA's appearance at the Justice for the Women and Children Group rally.

Lee Graham Parkinson, 36, of no fixed address, was jailed for 24 weeks in total on Monday by South Tyneside magistrates after admitting assaulting a police officer as officers attempted to keep the two events apart..

A 58-year-old Sunderland man faces a similar charge in court next month while A third, aged 24, has been served with a fixed penalty notice for disorderly behaviour.