Controversial UKIP politician brands women 'sluts' and then says he was joking
An MEP has defended branding women attending an UK Independence Party event "sluts", telling reporters it was just a joke.
Godfrey Bloom was heard shouting "this place is full of sluts" in response to comments made at an event in London to increase the number of women in politics.
The controversial Ukip spokesman also raised eyebrows when he hit a Channel 4 journalist over the head with a copy of Ukip's conference guide and then called him a racist.
Pressed about the sluts comment, Mr Bloom told Sky News: "I made a joke and said 'oh well you're all sluts' and everybody laughed including all the women."
In a reference to previous comments made by Mr Bloom that he was keen to deal with women's issues because they did not ''clean behind the fridge enough'', a Ukip woman is heard joking: "I too have never cleaned behind my fridge."
Mr Bloom is then clearly heard responding "This place is full of sluts" on the audio clip recorded by the Huffington Post website.
It is the latest of a series of gaffes by the outspoken politician. Last month the Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire MEP was forced to apologise for saying Britain should not send aid to ''bongo bongo land''.
As he left today's fringe event, he was confronted by Channel 4 News political correspondent Michael Crick over why there were "no black faces" on the cover of the conference brochure.
Mr Bloom took a swipe at the broadcaster with the guide and replied: "What a racist comment is that? How dare you? That's an appalling thing to say. You're picking people out for the colour of their skin, you disgust me."
Ukip leader Nigel Farage indicated Mr Bloom could face losing the party whip.
He told Sky News: "It sounds very, very stupid indeed. I'm not going to make any predictions now. I don't run the discipline of the party - the party chairman does - but there comes a point when people do cross too far over a line."
Asked if he would apologise to the women at the event, Mr Farage replied: "Not right at this moment in time. I need to find out the facts of this case. If everything you tell me is true, then of course."
As Mr Bloom took to the stage in Westminster Central Hall, London, for his keynote Ukip party conference speech, session chairman Jane Collins introduced him as a "lovely man" before outlining his background and career.
She added to laughter among the audience: "He is one of Ukip's most enigmatic speakers."
Mr Bloom, who was speaking about defence, thanked party activists for their efforts and described them as the "foot soldiers" who do the hard graft.
The ex-soldier, to more laughter, said: "It's also good to know who your friends are."
Green party MP Caroline Lucas said: "Sadly, this immature, public schoolboy mentality is an unpleasant fact of politics - and Ukip seem to excel at it. Bloom may well be trying to dismiss this as a joke but there's nothing funny about sexism or about a party that tolerates it."