National Front past of UKIP star at centre of race row
The UKIP councillor at the centre of a racism row was a member of the far-Right National Front, it was claimed last night.
Victoria Ayling, a high-profile ‘trusted ally’ of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, joined the openly racist party and attended its rallies as a student, according to her former husband, a friend and even her own mother.
A Mail on Sunday investigation has also discovered Mrs Ayling is being investigated by police after allegedly making abusive comments about her former husband – who is a transvestite.
The revelations come a week after this newspaper unveiled video footage of Mrs Ayling saying that all immigrants to Britain should be sent back home.
Mrs Ayling, who in March defected from the Tories by ambushing David Cameron after his party conference speech, was heard saying in the video: ‘OK, I just want to send the lot back, but I can’t say that.’
Now her mother, Brenda Brooks, and a family friend claim that Mrs Ayling joined the National Front in 1977 and went to meetings above a pub in Croydon, South London.
The friend also alleges that Mrs Ayling – who is known as a ‘Farage filly’ by UKIP insiders – attended a meeting at the home of a National Front candidate who stood for a seat in the 1979 General Election.
Speaking about her daughter’s past for the first time, Mrs Brooks, an artist and property developer, said: ‘Victoria was a member of the National Front and she went to marches and rallies.
‘She didn’t hide the fact that she was going to meetings. I wasn’t sure what the National Front was, I wasn’t a political animal. She just went there and that is what she did. I’m not saying it was the Girl Guides, but I saw it as a phase, part of her growing up.’
Stephen Agar, 50, a friend of Mrs Ayling’s who attended meetings with her as a teenager, added: ‘Victoria was a card-carrying member [of the National Front].
‘She didn’t just go along, she was engaged in it in a way that I was too for a while.
‘I was 14 at the time, she would have been about 18. We used to meet at the South Croydon branch regularly. She was active and took me along. I went along with her for about two years.’
Last night, Mrs Ayling denied being a member or supporter of the National Front, an extremist organisation that advocates the compulsory repatriation of all ‘non-white’ immigrants.
However, she admitted attending party meetings, saying it was for research on a thesis when she was studying law at Southampton University.
A statement released by UKIP said: ‘This required her to attend meetings from both sides of the political spectrum.’ It added that Mrs Ayling decided to drop the subject after feeling threatened at National Front meetings.
However, her version of events was last night challenged by her mother, Mr Agar and her ex-husband, Rob Ayling.
Mr Ayling claimed that when his soon-to-be wife was hoping to become a Conservative party candidate in 1999, the pair concocted a ‘cover story’ after she raised fears that her National Front past would be exposed.
‘She was very worried that the fact she was a National Front member would come out,’ he added.
‘We agreed – and I shouldn’t have done – that we would concoct a cover story that she had joined as part of her research for her university degree.
Mr Agar added: ‘Before she went to Southampton she was going to National Front meetings. She was attending meetings while she was doing A-levels. She never mentioned to me that she doing anything as part of her studies, she was going because she wanted to.’
Mrs Brooks, 81, also rubbished her daughter’s claims last night, saying she had made the painful decision to speak about the past for the sake of the family. ‘Victoria never mentioned anything about university work to me,’ she said. ‘That’s not it at all.
‘She was going to the meetings because she wanted to. I’m not being vindictive. I’m only telling the facts as they have happened.
‘I’m speaking because Victoria’s behaviour has negatively affected myself and my family.
‘Victoria was very forceful with her views, saying stuff like, “Let’s keep the blacks out.”
‘I didn’t know what the National Front was – as far as I was concerned they went up there, to London, marching up and down. That’s all I knew about it.’
Mrs Brooks, who has made a signed and witnessed statement on her daughter’s past, added: ‘She has always been politically minded, I think she enjoyed the excitement of going up there and being in the meetings and being part of it. She mentioned a rally where they did carry banners.
‘Had she got involved in fighting, fracas and cheating and stealing that would have been different, but marches and banners didn’t seem particularly worrying.’
‘I repeat, if there had been anything untoward, like fights, she wouldn’t have been allowed to go. But it was just meetings and flags.’
Mrs Ayling, 54, was elected as a UKIP Lincolnshire councillor in May and, in a fast-track rise through the party, spoke at its annual conference in September.
But Mrs Brooks said of her daughter’s ambition to stand in the next General Election: ‘I don’t think she should be a politician. I don’t think she’s suitable. She hasn’t got any compassion; she wants to be the top dog. No, I don’t think she’s suitable, definitely.’
Mr Agar, who was a guest at Mrs Ayling’s first two weddings and lived opposite the family in Purley, South London, also claimed that Mrs Ayling took part in National Front demonstrations.
‘Victoria was bold, even for a teenager and she was happy to argue her point with anybody,’ he said. ‘She also went with the National Front up to Brick Lane in London.
‘I didn’t go with her but she used to tell me the stories. One time she said she and other men got chased into a pub. She did that at least once. She was 19 or 20. She held extreme views, but whether she does now or not I don’t know. We went for National Front meetings in the Swan and Sugarloaf pub in Croydon.
‘The NF hired the top room from the landlord and we had meetings about once a month. There were probably 25 to 30 people at a meeting. All white, mainly men.
‘The meetings were one a month in the top room in the pub. She was still at home and she would drive and we would listen to speeches.
‘We did that for a year or two and I remember my last meeting was at the house of a local candidate, Roland Dummer. We went to his house in 1979 for a branch meeting. There were about 20 people there. It was the day Jim Callaghan lost a vote of no confidence by one vote [on March 28, 1979, triggering the General Election] – that’s why I remember the date.’
Mr Agar also revealed how he used to collect for the National Front in the streets near his home. ‘I collected in South Croydon and leafleted in Purley,’ he said. ‘I collected jumble – we called ourselves the Industrial Archaeological Society. It was wrong, people were giving stuff for a different cause.’
Mr Agar, who quit the National Front after a few years and said he has no personal axe to grind, that he was now speaking out in the interests of truth.
The Mail on Sunday can also reveal that Mrs Ayling and her new partner, Lord Kevin Couling – who purchased his title, the 64th Lord of Little Neasden – are also being investigated by police for an alleged hate crime against Mr Ayling.
The couple split in August last year after Mr Ayling had an affair.
Mr Ayling – who admits being a transvestite – alleges that when he was moving his furniture out of the matrimonial home, his former wife shouted at him: ‘You’re a bad tranny I’ve seen your website.’
A Lincolnshire Police spokesman said: ‘On July 13, a 54-year-old female and a 51-year-old male, both living at the same address, were voluntarily interviewed in relation to section 4 of the public order act, hate crime.’ Police are understood to be analysing an audio recording of the incident.
‘I’ve no need to apologise. My ex-partner is hell-bent on destroying my life’
Desperately fighting for her political career after being labelled a racist, UKIP councillor Victoria Ayling now claims to be the victim of a vicious smear campaign.
A video of Mrs Ayling – revealed by The Mail on Sunday last week – clearly showed her saying she wanted to send all immigrants back home.
But even after public outrage at her comments, she continues to claim she is not a racist.
Indeed, she appears to find the allegations against her deeply repugnant.
Bolstered by the personal backing of flamboyant UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, she remains unapologetic – and increasingly defiant.
‘I have nothing to apologise for,’ she insists, her tone strident. ‘I was referring to illegal immigrants. It would be stupid and unrealistic to expect all immigrants to leave the country.
‘Many of them have made very considerable contributions to our cultural and economic life. I also accept that genuine refugees and asylum seekers should be offered a home here, no matter their race or religion.’
It might seem damning that the video that exposed her was provided by her ex-husband, music company executive Rob Ayling, who was also behind the camera.
But Mrs Ayling claims it is merely the latest incident in a bitter vendetta being waged by her ex-husband – because she refused to accept his preferred lifestyle and sued for divorce.
In her first interview since the video was made public, the 54-year-old claims Mr Ayling cheated on her with other women, enjoyed wearing women’s clothes and forced her to go out with him while he was dressed as his alter ego, Rebecca Adams.
In a bid to save her third marriage, she visited nightclubs with him and says she watched as he danced and flirted with other men. At one event, he took photographs of them together and later posted them on to a website for cross-dressing and transgender men – an attempt, she claims, to discredit her.
‘I suffered two months of bullying and intimidation after I found out about his adultery and that he was a transvestite,’ she says. ‘He made me do things I didn’t want to: things that nauseated me – like going out with him dolled up as a woman.
‘At first I went along with it because I didn’t want another failed marriage. After a couple of months, however, I realised it was not for me. Although I feared he would turn against me, I asked him to leave the family home in January 2011 and filed for divorce. He fought me all the way and kept threatening to go public with details of the divorce.
‘I wanted to keep it all private to protect my children. So you can imagine how devastated I was by his betrayal. Did he even bother to think about how it might impact on the son we have together? The whole thing has been like a nightmare.’
Of course, if her own shocking revelations were to cause her former spouse embarrassment, so much the better.
‘My ex-husband is bent on destroying me. It has nothing to do with him thinking I’m a racist or a bigot.
He was very supportive of my political campaigns and didn’t have a problem with my views when the video was made.’
We meet at Mrs Ayling’s mansion in a leafy idyll on the edge of a Lincolnshire village.
The six-bedroom property, set in five acres, with a private cinema room, a pool and even a lake was a major bone of contention in the divorce.
She now shares it with her New Zealand-born partner, Lord Kevin Couling, and her sons.
Victoria’s first marriage in 1985 was to Linton Cook, which lasted four years. She then married Desmond Bowles, with whom she had two sons. They parted after seven years.
She was still living in Surrey when in 1998 she met Mr Ayling at a party. They married in Putney, South London, in June 2000 and their only child was born a year later.
She first stood as the Tory parliamentary candidate in Great Grimsby in 2010 and came close to winning a safe Labour seat, falling short by 714 votes. She is considered to be a rising UKIP star and hopes to stand for Parliament in 2015.
‘I think my ex was relying on UKIP chucking me out,’ she says, ‘but my views are exactly the same as my party. They know everything about me because I’ve not hidden anything from them.’
Mr Ayling said last night: ‘It makes me sad that my ex wife has chosen to attack me about my personal life. It is clearly an attempt to move away from the public interest in her.
‘The worse thing is that the person this really affects is our special needs son.’
From The Mail On Sunday . Report by Paul Calahan & Angella Johnson 15.12.13