Farage apologises over 'negative comments' about former Dudley Brexit Party candidate
Nigel Farage has apologised to a former Dudley Brexit Party candidate who pulled out of the election at the eleventh hour.
Rupert Lowe's decision to withdraw his candidacy in Dudley North shortly before nominations closed prompted a furious response from the Brexit Party leader, who accused him of "disgusting" behaviour.
Mr Farage initially said Mr Lowe had "double-crossed" the party and behaved "dishonestly" by quitting so late in the day, making it impossible for the party to put forward another candidate.
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But he has now apologised to West Midlands MEP Mr Lowe, conceding that Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice had been made aware of his plans before they were announced.
In a statement, Mr Farage said: "I was very shocked and disappointed when I heard that Rupert Lowe had withdrawn his candidacy in Dudley North, particularly as I had met with him two days before.
"Since that time, I have learnt that party chairman, Richard Tice, was aware of this prospect.
"I have known Rupert Lowe for some time and am happy to withdraw any negative comments made on that day about his behaviour, particularly any suggestion that he may have acted dishonestly."
Former Southampton FC chairman Mr Lowe stood down over fears that his candidacy could split the Leave vote in a seat that is a top target for the Tories.
He said he had been advised by Mr Tice not to announce his decision until minutes before nominations closed in a bid to prevent other candidates from following suit.