A UK Independence Party (UKIP) candidate dropped by the party after suggesting the abortion of foetuses with Down's syndrome should be compulsory is to stand in tomorrow’s Kent by-election as an independent.
Geoffrey Clark, who is running on Thursday for the Gravesham Rural seat on Kent County Council (KCC) and the Meopham North seat on Gravesham Borough Council (GBC), recommended as an “item for review” in his manifesto “compulsory abortion when the foetus is detected as having Downs, Spina Bifida or similar syndrome which, if it is born, could render the child a burden on the state as well as on the family.”
Mr Clark, who later apologised for his remarks during an interview with This is Kent, was yesterday suspended by UKIP.
On its Twitter page @UKIP the party wrote: “We can confirm that Mr Clark has been formally suspended as a UKIP candidate and will not be standing for the party again.”
Today, a spokesperson for KCC told This is Kent Mr Clark will be running tomorrow as an independent candidate.
However, Gravesham Borough Council clarified Mr Clark will still appear on the ballot paper as a UKIP candidate, as the papers have already been printed. A spokesperson said: "Tomorrow's by-elections for Gravesham Rural division of Kent County Council and Meopham North ward of Gravesham Borough Council will go ahead.
"All nominations are valid and were received on time. The legal deadline for changes to the ballot has passed and the election must proceed."
In an interview with This is Kent yesterday, Mr Clark said: “I would like to apologise to anyone who has taken offence - none of it was intended.
“UKIP’s policy is to reduce public expenditure. I am a layman; I do not know what should be cut. I wrote my website very, very quickly, it was so naive and foolish.”
Mr Clark, who appears to have taken down his website, added: “Some have been offended and I sincerely regret my choice of language. It was inappropriate language to express something that is genuinely sincere – we need to review all expenditure.”
His remarks were yesterday slammed by learning disability charity Mencap, which said it is “disgusted and horrified” by his manifesto.