Reform drops more candidates as it reports Channel 4 to Electoral Commission

Reform UK has dropped three more candidates and said it has reported Channel 4 to the Electoral Commission, after the broadcaster released footage of an activist campaigning for Nigel Farage using a racial slur to describe Rishi Sunak.

Edward Oakenfull, Robert Lomas, and Leslie Lilley, will still appear on the ballot paper as Reform candidates as it is too late for them to be removed, but they are no longer being backed by the party.

Mr Oakenfull posted offensive comments about the IQ of sub-Saharan Africans on social media last year. He told the BBC the remarks were “taken out of context”.

Mr Lilley reportedly posted on social media that people arriving on small boats were “scum”. Meanwhile, Mr Lomas allegedly said black people should “get off [their] lazy arses” and stop acting “like savages”.

The party dropping its candidates comes after an undercover report on activists involved in Nigel Farage’s bid to win a parliamentary seat in Clacton, Essex.

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage speaking during a BBC Question Time Leaders’ Special (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage speaking during a BBC Question Time Leaders’ Special (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

One activist, Andrew Parker used the racist term about Mr Sunak and suggested migrants should be used as “target practice”.

Another canvasser described the Pride flag as “degenerate” and suggested members of the LGBT community are paedophiles.

Reform has claimed that Mr Parker, who is a part-time actor, was used as a “plant”. Channel 4 News has denied that Mr Parker was paid by or known to the broadcaster prior to the report.

In a letter to the Electoral Commission, the Reform secretary Adam Richardson claimed that it was “entirely evident that Mr Parker was a plant within the Channel 4 news piece”.

He added: “The Channel 4 broadcast has clearly been made to harm Reform UK during an election period and this cannot be described as anything short of election interference.”


The party said it was also planning to demand an investigation by broadcasting regulator Ofcom. Mr Parker said he was “glad” that Channel 4 was being reported to the Electoral Commission.

He declined to say whether he had been paid to appear in the footage, instead saying “it’ll all come out in the papers; what’ll come out is the truth.”

Mr Parker’s comments caused consternation across the political spectrum. On Saturday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he shared Mr Sunak’s “disgust” at the use of a racial slur directed at the prime minister.

And security minister Tom Tugendhat said there was a “pattern of racist and misogynistic views” within Reform.

Sir Keir accused Mr Farage of not doing enough following the incident, and added that it is the leader who sets the “tone, the culture and the standards” of a political party.

Speaking to reporters on a campaign visit in Hampshire, he said: “I don’t think (Mr Farage) has shown the leadership he should’ve shown. There’s no good condemning remarks after the event.

Andrew Parker (Channel 4)
Andrew Parker (Channel 4)

“If you lead a party you set the tone, and the culture, and the standards of your party, and I don’t think he’s done enough in terms of leadership.”

In response to the incident, Mr Sunak talked about the impact on his family: “To know my girls may have heard their dad be called a ‘f****** p***’ by someone campaigning for Reform is shocking. We are better than that as a country.”

Asked if he sympathised with the Prime Minister, Sir Keir said: “I do, and I thought what he said about his daughters in particular was very powerful.

“And I’m glad he said it and I share his disgust at the comments that were made.”

“There is a real pattern of racist and misogynistic views in the party. I think it’s absolutely right to call it out,” he added.

Separately, Mr Farage is embroiled in a dispute with the BBC, claiming the audience for Friday’s Question Time special was “rigged” and refusing to appear on the flagship Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg show unless the corporation apologises.

On the BBC Question Time special, Mr Farage was asked why his party “attracts racists and extremists”.

The Reform leader said he had “done more to drive the far-right out of British politics than anybody else alive”.

He said the audience was rigged and “these were not ordinary members of the public”, adding: “They hand-picked a prominent pro-Palestine activist and even a BBC TV director to attack me.”

A BBC spokeswoman said: “We refute these claims. Last night’s Question Time audience was made up of broadly similar levels of representation from Reform UK and the Green Party, with the other parties represented too.

“There were also a number of people, with a range of political views, who were still making up their mind.”