Police 'urgently assessing' racist comments by Reform activists as Sunak speaks of anger

Police are "urgently assessing" racist and homophobic comments made by Reform UK activists as Rishi Sunak spoke of his hurt and anger at a personal slur.

The Essex force said it was looking "to establish if there are any criminal offences".

It came after the prime minister said he hated repeating the bigoted insult directed at him by a supporter of Nigel Farage's party, but said as a father of two daughters it was important to challenge "corrosive and divisive behaviour".

Reform campaigners had been recorded by an undercover Channel 4 reporter making racist comments, including about the Tory leader who is of Indian descent.

Follow live election updates

A spokesman for Essex Police said: "We are aware of comments made during a Channel 4 News programme and we are urgently assessing them to establish if there are any criminal offences."

Mr Sunak said: "My two daughters have to see and hear Reform people who campaign for Nigel Farage calling me an effing 'P***'.

"It hurts and it makes me angry and I think he has some questions to answer.

"And I don't repeat those words lightly.

"I do so deliberately because this is too important not to call out clearly for what it is."

Speaking on an election campaign visit to a school in Teesside, he added: "As prime minister, but more importantly as a father of two young girls, it's my duty to call out this corrosive and divisive behaviour."

Mr Sunak said he repeated the racial insult because it was important to challenge it.

He went on: "I hate having to do it, I chose my words deliberately, I hate having to repeat them, absolutely hate it.

"But I also think it's important to call this out for what it is and be clear about what it is."

The footage taken in Clacton where Mr Farage is a candidate, showed Reform campaigner Andrew Parker making the discriminatory remark about Mr Sunak and suggesting migrants should be used as "target practice".

He also described Islam as a "disgusting cult".

Another canvasser described the Pride flag as "degenerate" and suggested members of the LGBT+ community were paedophiles.

Read more on Sky News:
Analysis - Sunak's tetchiness over betting scandal speaks volumes
How will Britain's ethnically diverse communities vote?

Mr Farage, already facing a backlash over his claim the West "provoked" Russia's invasion of Ukraine, has sought to distance himself from the inflammatory comments, saying he was "dismayed" by the "appalling sentiments" expressed.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was "shocked" by the "clearly racist" footage and that the Reform UK leader faced a "test of leadership".

👉 Click here to follow Electoral Dysfunction wherever you get your podcasts 👈

Mr Farage has used reports Mr Parker was a part-time actor to suggest the incriminating film was a "total set-up".

Appearing on ITV's Loose Women, he said: "It was an act right from the very start."

Mr Farage added: "I have to tell you, this whole thing was a complete and total set-up, I have no doubt about that."

But Mr Parker told Sky News his volunteering for Reform was separate from his acting job and claimed he had been "goaded" into making the comments caught on camera.

He said: "There's lots of old people like me who are sick to death of this woke agenda… but on that particular day, I was set up and set up good and proper.

"It's proper taught me a lesson - I was a total fool."

He added: "I still support Nigel Farage, I think Nigel Farage is a brilliant guy.

"I think Nigel Farage is the only person who tells the truth."

Mr Sunak also hit out at Mr Farage's previous praise of Andrew Tate as an "important voice" for men.

The online influencer has faced charges of human trafficking, rape, and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women - charges he has denied.

The prime minister said: "Andrew Tate isn't an important voice for men. He's a vile misogynist. And our politics and country is better than that."

The other candidates in Clacton are:

Matthew Bensilum, Liberal Democrat

Jovan Owusu-Nepaul, Labour

Craig Jamieson, Climate Party

Tony Mack, independent

Natasha Oben, Green Party

Tasos Papanastasiou, Heritage Party

Andrew Pemberton, UK Independence Party

Giles Watling, Conservative