There were confrontational scenes as UKIP gatecrashed a public debate from which they were deliberately excluded this evening.
The anti-EU party's prospective Hendon candidate Adrian Murray-Leonard loudly interrupted the start of the event hosted by left-wing campaign group the Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) at The Larches hall in Edgware.
(Warning: This video contains some strong language)
The 52-year-old stood up and demanded to know why he was refused a place on the panel, to which representatives from Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the Conservatives were all invited.
BAPS said earlier this week its committee had made a “democratic decision” to exclude the party because it did not agree with its “racist” policies, adding that the Barnet branch, founded in November, had not been active enough locally.
Mr Murray-Leonard described the ban as “undemocratic and crass” but the war of words looked on the verge of breaking out into physical violence this evening during angry scenes at the start of the 7pm meeting.
UKIP told the Times Series this afternoon it expected a “rent-a-mob” to gatecrash the meeting after support was voiced from other party branches.
But it was the lone figure of Mr Murray-Leonard who shouted down BAPS chairman Ruth Kutner as she introduced the panel, announcing that the meeting was “a joke” and “undemocratic” in the face of heckling from the audience.
Ms Jacobson explained that the panel was for “people who have been involved in and shown their face in Barnet politics for several years”.
And when Mr Murray-Leonard refused to leave, an audience member, who claimed to be in charge of security, told the UKIP representative to get out, as expletives and heckles began to drown out his protests.
The fracas spilled into the foyer of the hall, where BAPS supporters continued to swear at Mr Murray-Leonard, who repeatedly described the meeting as a joke.
The confrontation was watched by Barnet’s UKIP chairman Chris Apostolou, who at one stage moved to urge his party colleague to leave before retaking his seat in the audience.
Barnet’s Conservative Party declined to send a representative to tonight’s meeting, reportedly due to their belief the panel and audience would be biased.
BAPS appointed two of its own members to the panel – meeting chairman Ruth Kutner and group chairman Barabara Jacobson – as well as loyal BAPS supporter and left-wing blogger Theresa Musgrove, who posts online under the guise of 'Mrs Angry'.
Labour was represented by group leader Alison Moore, while the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party were represented by stalwart councillor Jack Cohen and council candidate Andrew Newby respectively.