Vetting firm being sued by Nigel Farage denies ‘stitching up’ Reform UK

Nigel Farage has threatened to report the vetting company hired by Reform UK to the police after it failed to run background checks on its candidates in time for the general election.

The Reform leader is pursuing legal action against, alleging it “stitched up” the right-wing party due to chair Colin Bloom’s past links to the Conservative Party.

But Vetting said it simply did not have time to scrutinise all 609 of Reform’s candidates before the snap summer poll.

A spokesperson for the organisation said it had been working on the assumption the general election would be this autumn, giving it the summer to complete its work.

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“Given the explicit need for candidate consent, as well as our systems needing basic personal data like dates of birth, our automated software was not able [to] process Reform’s candidates with the data that was provided when it was provided,” the spokesperson said.

Farage claims to have paid £144,000 to the vetting company (PA)
Farage claims to have paid £144,000 to the vetting company (PA)

It came after Mr Farage lashed out at the company, claiming to have paid it £144,000 only to have been “stitched up”. The Reform leader blamed Vetting chair Colin Bloom, who was faith engagement adviser for the Conservative Party under Boris Johnson.

“This is an establishment stitch-up. The owner of the vetting company has deep links to the Tory party, and they have some serious questions to answer,” Mr Farage said.

Reform chair Richard Tice said: “A professional vetting company was paid a six-figure sum in April to vet Reform candidates.

“They promised a deep dive, particularly on social media, and adverse press checks, received our candidate data but then delivered absolutely nothing.

“Suddenly, a round of stories appear in The Times and elsewhere after nominations close, including some stories that are 15 years old. Something feels very wrong, and I have instructed lawyers to pursue this matter vigorously.”

Vetting’s spokesperson said Mr Bloom has not had anything to do with the Conservative Party since 2022 and remains politically neutral. The firm is understood to have offered Reform a refund.

The party has been hit by a series of revelations about the online activities of some of its would-be MPs, from links to a British fascist leader to suggestions the UK should have remained neutral in the fight against the Nazis and admiration of Adolf Hitler’s “brilliant” ability to inspire action.

On Tuesday He told LBC: “Have we had trouble with one or two candidates? Yes, we have.

“We have been stitched up politically, and that’s given us problems. And I accept that and I’m sorry for that.”

He dismissed as “utter nonsense” questions about candidate Jack Aaron, who is standing against defence secretary Grant Shapps in Welwyn Hatfield, over comments about Hitler’s personality traits.

Mr Aaron said in a social media post in 2022 that Hitler “was basically incoherent in his writing and rationale” but was “brilliant” at using specific personality traits “to inspire people into action”.

Asked about the suggestion that Mr Aaron thought Hitler was “brilliant”, Mr Farage said: “This is utter nonsense. It’s rather like… if you asked me, you know, was Hitler a good public speaker? And I say yes – suddenly I’m a supporter.

“This is nonsense.”

I strongly believe, as a psychologist, in separating intelligence and talent from morality

Welwyn Hatfield Reform UK candidate Jack Aaron

Mr Aaron told The Times: “Yes, Hitler was as brilliant as he was utter evil. How is that controversial to say, given that he was able to turn the Germans to such destructive acts, including killing many members of my own family?

“I strongly believe, as a psychologist, in separating intelligence and talent from morality, so that we can adequately diagnose problems and help people.”

The row erupted as the BBC said it will allow Reform to take part in an extra Question Time leaders’ special after Mr Farage complained about being excluded from the programme.

The broadcaster has added an additional Question Time to its election coverage to reflect “the fact that it is clear from across a broad range of opinion polls that the support for Reform UK has been growing”.

Mr Farage had demanded a spot on the BBC’s four-way leaders’ debate panel, which Fiona Bruce will host this Thursday. The Reform leader last week said the broadcaster should feature him in the line-up after an opinion poll put his party ahead of the Conservatives. Meanwhile, a high-profile Panorama interview with Mr Farage has been rescheduled for 7pm on Friday 21 June.

Last week Mr Farage suggested the earlier-than-expected timing of the general election meant vetting had not been possible.

Nigel Farage signed Reform’s contract with voters alongside party chair Richard Tice on Monday (PA)
Nigel Farage signed Reform’s contract with voters alongside party chair Richard Tice on Monday (PA)

“Don’t forget, I’ve come in right at the last minute, we have not had time to do full vetting of candidates. It’s been impossible for us,” he said.

Mr Farage also defended his party’s “contract” with voters after the Institute for Fiscal Studies said it was based on “extremely optimist assumptions” about growth and the sums “do not add up”.

On ITV’s Good Morning Britain he was challenged about the plan to raise the starting point for paying income tax to £20,000, and the inheritance tax threshold to £2m, which would benefit wealthier families.

Mr Farage said that by raising the income tax threshold “we make work pay, we get people off benefits, we help the lower-paid keep more money in their pockets and we reduce the need for unskilled migration”.