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Leadership candidate's torrid time

PUBLISHED: 15:14 24 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 March 2010

THE eyes of the political world were on Ipswich as Tory leadership candidate Iain Duncan Smith made his first appearance following the revelation that one of his campaigners had links with the British National Party.

THE eyes of the political world were on Ipswich as Tory leadership candidate Iain Duncan Smith made his first appearance following the revelation that one of his campaigners had links with the British National Party.

Mr Duncan Smith was in town to visit a high-tech company as part of a regional tour before party hustings tonight.

The visit came hours after the revelation that one of his campaign vice presidents was Edgar Griffin, father of British National Party chairman Nick Griffin.

Mr Griffin's wife, Jean, stood for the BNP against Mr Duncan Smith in his Chingford constituency at the General Election.

Mr Griffin, from Welshpool in Wales, said that although his son and wife were members of the BNP, he remained a committed Tory and was not a BNP supporter.

But the retired accountant added: "The two parties are almost the same in terms of long-term plans. In terms of manifestos of the Tories and the BNP, you can hardly tell the difference."

He accepted he had answered telephones at the BNP headquarters.

As soon as he arrived in Ipswich, Mr Duncan Smith was surrounded by reporters from national newspapers and broadcasters keen to ask him about the Griffin affair.

"This man has been a member of the party for some time. He was a member when Michael Heseltine and Kenneth Clarke were in government.

"As soon as we found out about this he was removed from the campaign team and we will be taking action to have him removed from the party," he said.

Mr Duncan Smith was visiting Active Web Solutions, based in the Felaw Maltings.

The company, which designs web pages and company internet links, was set up 18 months ago and has already won several awards.

He was shown the team working on new projects by technical director Richard Prodger.

Mr Duncan Smith said he was impressed by the company and the environment which had been created for new companies in Felaw Maltings.

"This shows the kind of enterprise we need to attract in this country," he said.

He said his campaign was aimed at winning back natural Conservatives who had not voted for the party in the last two general elections.

"We need to talk to people about the things that concern them – like health, education and public services.

"I have talked about Europe less than my opponent, but I do feel it is important that we save the pound and don't sign up for the Euro.

"But I am very keen to strengthen trade links with Europe and I know that is important in this part of the country with the close links," he said.

Mr Duncan Smith was later due to go on a walkabout in Norwich and was due to join Kenneth Clarke for Conservative hustings in St Ives, Cambridgeshire tonight.

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