The leader of UKIP came under fire this morning as he defended one of his candidates, Carl Benjamin, who once tweeted “I wouldn’t even rape you” at a female MP.
Gerard Batten, who appeared on The Andrew Marr Show, said he believed the tweet was “satire”, and added that Benjamin was "not a bad person" and a "proponent of free speech".
His comments came after Marr grilled him about his selection of Carl Benjamin as a candidate for UKIP, should the UK take part in next month's EU elections. Benjamin, also known as YouTube personality Sargon of Akka, is an outspoken anti-feminist and Eurosceptic.
In 2016, Benjamin criticised the cross-party "Reclaim the Internet" group aimed at tackling misogyny online, which was spearheaded by Labour MP Jess Phillips. After he dubbed the group "social communism", Phillips clapped back, tweeting:
People talking about raping me isn’t fun, but has become somewhat par for the course.
To which Benjamin replied:
I wouldn’t even rape you, Jess Phillips.
These comments were widely criticised and condoned.
During the programme, Marr challenged Batten, saying:
Any other party would have kicked him out and you have made him your lead MEP candidate.
But Batten, who has been mired in controversy ever since he decided to appoint Tommy Robinson as an adviser on child grooming gangs, didn't budge.
Naturally, Batten's comments sparked fury on social media, with people even condoning BBC for allowing the far-right politician a platform.
Meanwhile, Jess Phillips also responded to all the commotion, defending Marr for having Batten on the show and saying it is "the right thing to do".