Wales politics

Nigel Farage intervened in Welsh UKIP spat, tribunal hears

Nathan Gill
Image caption Nathan Gill had faced pressure to quit his role as a Welsh MEP after accusations of "double-jobbing"

Nigel Farage told a UKIP MEP not to stand down during an internal party row in Wales, an employment tribunal heard.

Nathan Gill faced pressure to give up his seat in Brussels over accusations of "double-jobbing" after being elected to the assembly last May.

But after losing a leadership challenge for the party in Wales to Neil Hamilton, Mr Farage intervened.

Mr Gill told a Cardiff tribunal he had always done what Mr Farage "asked me to do."

The politician, who sits as an independent AM for north Wales, made the comments while giving evidence to an employment tribunal in Cardiff brought by his former constituency manager, John Atkinson.

Mr Atkinson - a 67-year-old former Royal Marine from Llanpumsaint, Carmarthenshire - claims he was unfairly dismissed on disability grounds.

He was dismissed, along with all of Mr Gill's staff, in April last year. Some were later rehired.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nigel Farage urged Mr Gill to remain as an MEP, it is claimed

Mr Atkinson, who worked from home in west Wales, told the tribunal he was not given a job because he needed a hip operation, claiming Mr Gill "knew at the time that I would be incapacitated for 13 months".

"In my opinion Mr Gill's explanation for my dismissal is that he was standing down as an MEP. This didn't happen therefore that reason doesn't exist any more," he said.

Mr Gill denies the claim and says all staff were treated equally.

He said he had employed a lot of people in his career before going into politics and had never dismissed someone because they were disabled.

"I am not stupid and I would never ever do such a thing," he said.

Image caption John Atkinson was dismissed in March 2016

Mr Gill said that after losing the leadership vote to Mr Hamilton he was "in turmoil - I didn't know what I was going to do".

He described earlier wrangling within the party over choosing candidates for the Assembly election, when he faced a "hostile" national executive committee, saying: "It was literally the worst time of my life."

The tribunal continues.

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