A long-running public spat between leading UKIP members in Wales has taken a dramatic new turn, after the party’s Assembly group leader, Neil Hamilton, threatened to lodge a disciplinary complaint against its Caerphilly Chairman Sam Gould.
The latest row exploded when Ex-Tory MP Hamilton, now a Regional Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, turned up at a local branch meeting with other senior party figures.
Mr Hamilton, his wife Christine, Assembly Members Caroline Jones and Michelle Brown – representing South West Wales and North Wales respectively – and an assortment of other colleagues, arrived in Caerphilly town ahead of an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) held by the branch at the Twyn Community Centre on Tuesday, August 30.
The meeting had been called to garner interest in requesting UKIP hold a national EGM to discuss constitutional reform – including the future of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
Branch members in attendance voted unanimously in favour.
Mr Gould, who was UKIP’s Caerphilly candidate for the Assembly elections in May, said: “Neil and his entourage turned up uninvited to the EGM, and as party rules stipulate, only branch members are allowed in. It was a surprise when they arrived.
“They attended the branch meeting which followed the EGM, and Neil and Caroline Jones spoke in front of members, who were very unhappy that he had turned up at a branch that has no affiliation to him and had never had any engagement with him.”
Mr Hamilton had taken issue with comments made by Mr Gould to Caerphilly Observer recently over his protracted public spat with former UKIP AM Nathan Gill, and referenced the online article at the branch meeting.
That row centres on Mr Gill’s refusal to step down as a Member of European Parliament and his non-attendance at Senedd meetings.
Mr Gould, who works as an advisor for Mr Gill, suggested that Mr Hamilton had a “vendetta” against Mr Gill – something the AM refutes.
Mr Hamilton said: “I have no vendetta against Nathan Gill whatsoever. He’s the one who has taken his bat home. He has been sniping from the sidelines all the time.
“My objection to Nathan Gill is that he won’t keep his promise to give up one of his jobs upon his election as an AM. He can’t be in two places at once as his obligations as an MEP take him to Brussels and Strasbourg for two or three months of the year.
“This whole thing is a tissue of lies, and I’m going to make a disciplinary complaint against Sam Gould for misrepresenting the facts of the case and bringing UKIP into disrepute as a result of his conduct.
“Nathan is not the leader of UKIP in Wales, and Sam Gould is pulling the wool over the eyes of the people of Caerphilly.
“He says there’s been a surge in membership over the last year in Caerphilly, but based on the turnout of eight on Tuesday night, how big is that surge? It was an eye-opener for me. I was assuming there would be a huge number of people there at this EGM, and that I would have the opportunity to set out the facts about Nathan Gill.
“I don’t know how many people there are in the branch in Caerphilly, but the turnout of eight can hardly be representative.”
Mr Gould, who said nine members were at the meeting, called on Mr Hamilton to apologise over his remarks, saying: “I think that’s an absolute insult to the party’s membership and he should apologise for that.
“I maintain my position from before. I believe he has a vendetta.
“Just because he doesn’t agree with the democratic vote of members of the party in Caerphilly, doesn’t mean he can throw his toys out of the pram.
“This single-handedly proves that Neil Hamilton has a vendetta against anyone who opposes him, or in my case, has a position which disagrees with him.
“This is the bully-boy tactics of Neil and the NEC he supports which the grassroots members such as myself are fighting to oppose.”