British Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives have suspended one of their candidates for the upcoming general election. This followed allegations that he sought to stir up racial tensions in a bid to win votes.
The party announced on Saturday evening that it had suspended Afzal Amin, its candidate in the parliamentary district of Dudley North, after video footage came to light, in which he appears to be attempting to orchestrate an elaborate plot involving members of the far-right English Defence League (EDL).
"Following an emergency meeting it has been decided to suspend him as a candidate with immediate effect," a spokesman for the party told Britain's Press Association. "The Conservative Party views this as a matter of extremely serious concern," the spokesman added.
Amin, who used his Twitter account to deny the allegations against him, is to get a chance to explain his actions at a party disciplinary hearing, expected to be held on Tuesday.
In the video footage published on the website of the Mail on Sunday, Amin appears to try to convince EDL chairman Steve Eddowes to announce a protest march against a new mosque in Dudley North. Then he appears to outline a plan to cast himself in the role of peacemaker in the public eye, by convincing the EDL to call off the demonstration.
'This is my fantasy," a voice, allegedly his, says. "If I could demonstrate to the people in Dudley that I can be a positive voice for community cohesion, for development, for campaigning against the evils and the terrorism and the child grooming and all the rest of it, then that would help me a lot in the forthcoming election."
The video is reported to have been filmed by former EDL chairman Tommy Robinson, who is thought to have released it as he objected to being used as a pawn in the plot.
Battleground electoral district
Dudley North is currently held by the opposition Labour Party, which won the seat by a slim margin in the 2010 elections; it is seen as one of the keys to the Tories' hopes of winning a parliamentary majority in the general election in May. Recent opinion polls indicate however, that neither the Conservatives, which currently govern in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, or Labour are likely to win control of half the seats.
The euro-skeptic UKIP party, which has appealed to some Conservative voters, as well as the Scottish National Party could play a key role in the outcome of the polls - either in the form of an open coalition, or a less formal cooperation agreement with a minority government.
Although it has quickly grown in popularity, UKIP has had problems with some of its own candidates, including two that it suspended on Friday over alleged wrongdoing involving expense claims and a workplace incident.