Afzal Amin, the Conservative candidate who was recorded allegedly plotting with the English Defence League, has resigned “with immediate effect” to avoid a disciplinary hearing by the party.
Grant Shapps, the Tory chairman, welcomed the decision by Amin, who said earlier in the day that he was planning to mount a “robust defence” after claiming he was the victim of an EDL sting operation.
A Conservative party disciplinary hearing, which was due to hear from Amin on Tuesday, will not take place. Tory sources had said that evidence against Amin was so overwhelming that he would be removed as the party candidate in Dudley North in days.
The Mail on Sunday reported that Amin discussed with the EDL a plan to march against a planned mosque in the constituency that would then be called off.
Amin was recorded saying that he would take the credit for persuading the EDL to call off the march. He also pledged to act as the group’s “unshakeable ally” in parliament if they were able to help him.
A Conservative spokesman said on Monday: “Afzal Amin is resigning as Conservative candidate for Dudley North with immediate effect. Conservative chairman Grant Shapps has welcomed Mr Amin’s decision and thanked him for his work in the past.”
Amin stood down after the Tory leadership, which indicated on Sunday that it no longer had confidence in him, was alarmed by a senior police officer in Dudley questioning his account.
Chief Supt Chris Johnson said he had no idea about Amin’s plan to encourage the EDL to march in Dudley on the Saturday before the general election. Amin had said he sought to involve Johnson “from the start” of his dialogue with the EDL.
The chief superintendent said on Sunday night that he was aware Amin was trying to promote dialogue between the EDL and Muslim community leaders. But he added: “At no point have we ever discussed an EDL demonstration on the dates in question and I have no knowledge of his alleged plans.”
Tommy Robinson, the former EDL leader who met Amin on a number of occasions, also challenged his account. He told the BBC: “It is clear to see. Anyone can watch the video, the video footage is there. He has tried to deceive us, he has tried to deceive the electorate, he has tried to deceive the police.”
Amin had said he would strongly defend his conduct after the Mail on Sunday published a video in which he said he would take the credit for persuading the EDL to call off a march on the eve of the general election against the building of the mosque.
Amin, who is in Dubai, told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 on Monday: “I have got to make my case on Tuesday to the Conservative party. I want to make a robust defence of my actions and I want to assure the party that I am a loyal party member and a party supporter. I look forward to seeing a Conservative victory in May.”
The former army captain, who served as chairman of the Armed Forces Muslim Association, said he had been the victim of a sting operation by the EDL after recordings of a series of meetings with Robinson and Steve Eddowes, EDL chairman, were published.
Amin told the Today programme: “There is no way I would have the confidence to propose such a manoeuvre to the EDL leadership. [Tommy Robinson] is the one that proposed absolutely that we would do this march and then we would negotiate our way out of it. When he first came to me, he presented himself in tears. I didn’t realise this was the start of a year-long sting operation. That is really what I have been subject to here.”
Ed Miliband had called for Amin’s removal as the Tory candidate in Dudley North. The Labour leader said: “These are shocking allegations when you have a Conservative candidate saying that he is going to be an ‘unshakeable ally’ of the English Defence League. There is only one course of action for David Cameron: he should end the dither and delay and kick this man out of the party. We cannot have these sort of people standing for mainstream parties in British politics.”
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