In Brief

Hope Not Hate crowdfunds lawsuit against Nigel Farage

Anti-fascist group threatens action after Ukip leader links husband of murdered MP Jo Cox to 'extremists'

Farage smiling

An anti-fascist group supported by the widower of murdered MP Jo Cox has launched a crowdfunding campaign to file a lawsuit against Nigel Farage after he labelled it "extremist".

Hope Not Hate, one of the three organisations which shared donations made in memory of the politician, says it has instructed lawyers to begin proceedings if the former Ukip leader refuses to retract the claim.

Farage's comments began with a tweet about this week's attack in Berlin, which he called "Merkel's legacy", in reference to Chancellor Angela Merkel's "open door" policy towards immigration.

Cox's husband, Brendan, responded: "Blaming politicians for the actions of extremists? That's a slippery slope Nigel."

Farage hit back during an interview on LBC radio, saying "he would know more about extremists than me".

He went on to say the widower backed "organisations like Hope Not Hate, who masquerade as being lovely and peaceful but actually pursue violent and very undemocratic means".

Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen, was shot and stabbed to death in June by far-right extremist Thomas Mair, who shouted "Britain first" during the attack.

Her successor, Tracy Brabin, said Farage's accusation represented "a new low", while fellow Labour MP Louise Haigh suggested he had "lost the plot".

However, Farage's supporters appeared to agree with his comments, with one source close to him suggesting Cox's rebuttal had been an attempt to "jump on a bandwagon".

Speaking to The Independent, the source said: "It's quite funny, in an ironic way, that an organisation in receipt of a huge sum of money from the Jo Cox Fund is now crowd-sourcing an attempted legal action."

Hope Not Hate has come under scrutiny after issuing a press release claiming they had conducted a report that identified 50,000 tweets praising Cox's murder. 

However, that number was not reflected in the report itself - the real figure is estimated to be fewer than 1,500, according to The Economist – and the group issued an apology for the misleading press release.

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