UKIP MEP for Wales John Bufton has blasted accusations of racism levelled against his party this weekend as “abhorrent”.

The news that two fosterers had children removed from their care in Rotherham because they were members of Ukip has caused a furore in the press ahead of crucial by-elections in the town this Thursday.

John Bufton said: “this incident should shock and appal everyone involved in politics. To use accusations of racism ahead of crucial by-elections is utterly abhorrent, especially when the real victims in this situation are the three children who have been needlessly uprooted from a stable family.

“For years it may have suited other parties and certain members of the media to tarnish Ukip with accusations of “xenophobia” or “racism” in order to scaremonger among potential voters.

“It is both ignorant and dangerous to conflate immigration policy, the basis for these recent accusations, with racism and disables frank and open dialogue on this very important topic.

“I would never be a member of any organisation whose views on race were in any way tainted. I find racism to be the vilest of prejudices. I am of German parenthood and still have many family members living near Hanover. However I believe that Britain should not be a member of the EU and that open border immigration policy puts a significant strain on society and our welfare system, concerns shared by a great many British voters. “