UK & World News
UKIP Slams Tory Election 'Smear Campaign'
UKIP has accused the Tories of running a "morally reprehensible" smear campaign by trawling through would-be councillors' Twitter and Facebook posts.
The row comes as one of the party's council candidates faces criticism for allegedly posting a series of anti-gay comments on Facebook.
Gloucestershire County Council hopeful John Sullivan is accused of writing that regular physical exercise in schools can prevent homosexuality and congratulating Russia for banning gay pride.
At least two Sunday newspapers are running negative UKIP stories.
The Observer claims leaked emails reveal that one of the party's MEPs is concerned about excessive "political correctness" among new recruits.
Meanwhile the Sunday Mirror reports that UKIP leader Nigel Farage is under "ferocious pressure" to kick out the racists in his party.
But a party spokesman hit back, saying: "UKIP has been subject to a co-ordinated smear campaign.
"We have evidence that Conservative Campaign Head Quarters has been scrutinising each and every one of our 1,732 candidates, monitoring every social media output over the last few years.
"Were we inclined to return the favour, we would find even more examples to use against them.
"We deem that using our candidates as cannon fodder to undermine a political campaign, anti politick, morally reprehensible and downright dirty.
"We are an open minded party who believes that ordinary hard working men and women who want to serve their communities should not be subject to a political lynch mob."
The party said it was looking into the allegations against Mr Sullivan and would be making contact with him.
It added that it did not condone "homophobic, xenophobic, extreme nor unpalatable views" and would deal with each individual case on merit.
A Conservative source told Sky News: "This is a desperate attempt to deflect attention away from the serious questions UKIP must answer about some of their candidates.
"UKIP should be held to account about the candidates they want to hold public office."