UKIP press officer Lynda Roughley 'thrown under the bus' by leader Nuttall

UKIP press officer Lynda Roughley has been "thrown under the bus" by leader Paul Nuttall, it has been claimed, following reports on his website relating to the Hillsborough football disaster that were revealed to be false.

UKIP leader Paul Nuttal
UKIP leader Paul Nuttal

Despite Roughley tendering her resignation because of the "mistake", PRCA director general Francis Ingham said it is important to point out that responsibility ultimately rests with Nuttall.

In an interview on Radio City Talk in Liverpool yesterday (14 February), Nuttall insisted he knew nothing about the claims - which suggest he lost "close personal friends" during the disaster.

"Nuttall says he does not want to throw Roughley under a bus, but the fact that he let this happen means that he already has," Ingham said.

Following Nuttall's interview, Roughley released a statement taking full responsibility for a false quote that appeared on Nuttall's site in 2011.

"I am frankly mortified at the distress this issue has caused Paul and may have caused to anyone involved with the Hillsborough tragedy. I have today offered my resignation, I could not be more sorry," she said.

Ingham said it was "shockingly unethical" to make false claims about an event that was the source of so much personal tragedy for so many people.

He also said false statements made about the Hillsborough disaster paint PR and communications in a very bad light.

CIPR president Jason MacKenzie added that blameshifting and obfuscation are "always unacceptable".

"The professional PR practitioner doesn't deal in lies, distortion or spin. It's as simple and straightforward as that," he said.

"It's also not credible for anyone, least of all a politician, to say that they don't check communications that are published in their name by their own press officers," he added.

A UKIP spokesperson said Roughly's offered resignation has been rejected.

"So she remains in post. She has been a hardworking and loyal worker for many years and is being treated as such," the spokesperson said.

The Hillsborough disaster happened during a 1989 FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham at Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield. Ninety-six people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured.

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