A furious row broke out last weekend when UKIP Darlington falsely claimed their candidate David Hodgson had not received invites to two recent hustings events.
A post on the group’s Facebook page says:
“It may be of considerable interest to our supporters that David Hodgson did not receive any official invitation or notification to attend the two previous hustings despite the fact that his personal contact details are widely publicised.”
Mr Hodgson later admitted receiving an invite to the environmental hustings but maintained he was not invited to the LGBT event – despite organisers insisting he was.
He claimed he did not write the contentious Facebook post and said he would ask for it to be amended to reflect the true circumstances.
Peter Plant, secretary of Darlington’s Friends of the Earth group and organiser of their recent hustings, accused UKIP of openly lying and suggested Mr Hodgson was “swerving” issues he had no political stance on.
Mr Hodgson said a previous engagement prevented him from attending the environmental hustings and claimed he would have welcomed an invite to the LGBT event.
However, Mr Hodgson pledged support for the LGBT community and said he would be interested in organising a gay pride event in Darlington.
He said: “Gay and lesbian people have my support and sympathy as I have gay friends myself and go through to Blackpool for gay pride events there.”
Mr Plant said: “I think he was frightened to turn up as UKIP don’t have the policies – they have one, blame foreigners.
“I’d respect them if they turned up and put their case, even if I don’t agree but by doing this, they’re showing they have no respect whatsoever.”
“The hustings was an opportunity to speak face-to-face with them about these issues and I’m not going to turn that down.”
Mr Hodgson’s agent, David Williams, added:
“Following negative comments an assertions regarding Mr Hodgson regarding his non-attendance at two recent hustings meetings, it must be made clear that no official invitation was received using the accepted official protocols.”
Gay rights activists staged a protest in a bid to get one of the world’s biggest companies to speak out against Russia’s controversial laws on homosexuality.
About a dozen supporters took tohomosexuality in Sunderland to campaign outside McDonald’s as they called on its bosses to speak out about the country’s stance.
Last year, its Government banned the promotion of “non-traditional” sexuality, which has been seen as an attack on gay rights.
The country is holding this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, with the opening ceremony held yesterday.
People of all sexualities attended the protest, which also saw a letter handed to the restaurant’s management setting out why the event was held and how lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people were being beaten and persecuted in Russian.
Sam Willey, 22, one of the organisers, said: “What we’re trying to do is push them to at least accept Russia is persecuting gay people.
“It’s not necessarily to say they should pull out of their sponsorship but to speak out.
“They are paying a lot of money for the Olympics, and the least they could do is a little bit more to call for action.
“A lot of us saw the Dispatches documentary, and that really shocked a lot of people to the core.”
Among those to join in the event was Ryan Houston, chairman of Sunderland Pride, who said: “I think this highlights what we take for granted in the North East, and we support the work they are doing.”
The protest backed an international campaign called All Out, which states no person should have to sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity, because of who they are or who they love.
A spokesman for McDonald’s said: “We are aware that some activists are targeting Olympic sponsors to voice their concerns regarding the Russian LGBT legislation.
“McDonald’s supports human rights, the spirit of the Olympics and all the athletes who’ve worked so hard to compete in the Games.
“We believe the Olympic Games should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and athletes.”
Source – Sunderland Echo 08 Feb 2014