The chairman of the UK Independence Party has spoken out for the first time following rumours the leader of the party's youth division had been firedfor his views on gay marriage.
Steve Crowther, who lives in North Devon, denies the rumours Oliver Neville was removed from his position for being pro-gay marriage despite social networking site Twitter being rife with the rumours last night. Mr Neville had filled the post temporarily three weeks ago after the former leader of the UKIP youth party stood down.
But Mr Crowther said there had been problems throughout the three weeks with Mr Neville not recognising his position as a party spokesperson.
He said: "Olly was not fired because of his views of gay marriage. We do require he observes his position as spokesman and we have been dealing with a number of issues with that over the past few weeks.
"I have been mentoring him for some time but the situation was not improving.
"We are aware as a party all the members have broad views and we welcome that but when it comes to speaking out on the party line we have to be somewhat disciplined.
"On issues like the legalisation of drugs we have to toe the party line and Olly was not.
"It really wasn't working and I was informed by the UKIP National Executive Committee that he needed to go.
"This has not been an extreme situation but when you are dealing with something like Twitter, it is a significant problem.
"When something is self-publishing it escalates the problem and when Olly published the emails causing the rumours to grow it was an action that we have been trying to tell him is not appropriate in his position.
"We have a policy on gay marriage, we do not all agree with it.
"Someone would not be removed from the party from speaking out on it, we would need to have words but in Olly's case having words on various issues didn't work.
"This is a story about internal management. I will be talking to the vice chairman of the youth group later today to speak about him taking on the role until the elections for youth leader happen in March."
The Journal is trying to contact Mr Neville for an interview. Keep checking www.thisisnorthdevon.co.uk for updates.