Former MEP wins claim over homophobia

A former UK Independence Party MEP has won her claim that the party discriminated against her because she was a lesbian.

Nikki Sinclaire MEP had the whip removed by Ukip leader Nigel Farage in January after she refused to sit with members of the far-right Italian party Lega Nord, claiming some of its members were homophobic.

The Eurosceptic party made no defence when she lodged a discrimination suit against it at Exeter Employment Tribunal and a default judgment was made in her favour.

But Ukip said yesterday it had failed to lodge a response to the suit due to an administrative error and an application for the judgment to be set aside had been filed.

The judgment, on which Mr Farage and Godfrey Bloom MEP were both listed as respondents, found that: "The claim of sexual orientation discrimination is well founded".

Ms Sinclaire, who now sits as an independent, said: "I'm very saddened by how this has all turned out. I have been trying to work for an out of court settlement but at no point did Ukip come to me and say: 'Right, shall we talk about this?'

"I feel betrayed by the party. When I joined Ukip in 1994 it certainly wasn't a career move. I did my bit in building Ukip up to second in a national election and they have repaid me with discrimination."

Ms Sinclaire claims that Mr Bloom, MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, called her "a queer" as she passed him in the hallway of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. She said she had made an official complaint and the alleged incident was being investigated by Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament.

Mr Bloom denied making the comment and said he was unaware of any investigation. The European Parliament could not confirm whether an investigation was under way.

In their statement Ukip said: "Because of a simple administrative error, the date for filing a response to Ms Sinclaire's action was regrettably missed. The respondents have now filed an application to set aside the judgment. The respondents have always intended to defend this case vigorously and the application is accompanied by a robust response challenging almost every aspect of her case, including the Tribunal's jurisdiction."

A remedy hearing, where compensation may be awarded, is due next Wednesday.