THE husband of a BNP Parliamentary candidate has quit the party following his recent arrest over an alleged drugs offence.
Clifford Baddeley was arrested last month on suspicion of possessing cannabis. The arrest led to police searching the house he shares with his wife Melanie, who is the far-right party's Parliamentary candidate in the Stoke-on-Trent North constituency.
Mr Baddeley, who has not been charged with any offences, remains on police bail while officers complete their investigation. The unemployed 49-year-old, of Holehouse Road, Abbey Hulton, has admitted to using cannabis in the past to relieve the pain of arthritis. However, he says he has since stopped using the drug.
BNP figures say Mr Baddeley left the party to avoid causing further embarrassment in the run-up to the May 6 polls. His departure comes after BNP chairman Nick Griffin was forced to defend Mr Baddeley's conduct at the party's election manifesto launch in Stoke on Friday.
Mr Griffin had unveiled a range of tough new crime policies, including the death penalty for drug dealers, in front of the media. But he was later forced to admit he would not be taking any disciplinary action against Mr Baddeley on the grounds that he had been using cannabis medicinally.
Mr Baddeley told The Sentinel last week that he was ashamed of the embarrassment his arrest had caused for his wife and the party. He was unavailable for comment last night on his decision to step down.
Mrs Baddeley said she accepted her husband's resignation from the party and wanted to focus on her campaign. She said: "Following the manifesto launch on Friday, when questions were raised about Clifford, he has decided to resign from the party. He stepped down, because he was aware of the embarrassment his situation was causing for the party."
Stoke-on-Trent City Council BNP group leader Councillor Michael Coleman, who is standing for election in the Stoke-on-Trent South constituency, said he felt Mr Baddeley had made the right decision. And he hinted that his departure may be temporary if the ongoing police inquiry finds no evidence of any wrongdoing.
He said: "It is true that Mr Baddeley has resigned in light of everything that has happened. He is doing this to protect the party and our reputation, but he wasn't pushed; it was his choice to leave. I'm sure that when this has all blown over, he will come back to us."
He added: "His medical condition is absolutely awful and we are taking a lenient approach because of that."
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