A COUNCILLOR selected by local Ukip members to fight the General Election in Clacton has quit the party group after being sidelined for a member of the party’s national committee.

It is claimed that Paul Oakley, who is a member of the party’s National Executive Committee, has been “parachuted in” to fight the election on June 8.

Jeff Bray, who represents Weeley and Little Clacton on Tendring Council, was selected as a provisional candidate by local Ukip members over London-based barrister Mr Oakley by 19 votes to 16 at a hustings two weeks ago.

Mr Bray was backed by millionaire party donor Arron Banks who decided not to stand in the election himself after meeting local party members, although Mr Bray had come under fire after Twitter posts supposedly authored by him were circulated on social media.

However, Mr Bray said at least one of the tweets had been "manipulated" and others were taken out of context.

Speaking to the Gazette, Mr Bray said he has quit the party's group on Tendring Council, but will remain an ordinary member of Ukip.

"The NEC have ignored the members’ choice," he said.

“As a member of the NEC, [Paul Oakley] had made it clear that he wanted to stand in Clacton.

“So much for the people’s army - they have ignored the people.

“I’m very angry at the way I have been treated.

“At no point has anyone from the NEC contacted me - they still haven't. I was told by the branch chairman.

“It's little wonder Ukip are so low in the polls - appalling treatment, appalling communication.”

Mr Bray said he would not be standing as an independent in the General Election.

Ukip councillor Richard Everett said local party members have been left outraged by the decision to “parachute in” a national figure over a locally-selected candidate.

He said: “This is outrageous and seems to fly in the face of what Ukip has stood for up until now - defending the people's choice over that of the establishment.

“Hypocritical actions such as this should not be in our lexicon.”

Mr Oakley said: "I'm very pleased to be selected as the candidate.

"I'm a member of the NEC and when the issue of Clacton was discussed I was rightly asked to leave the room, so I don't have the slightest idea what was said.

"There was a potential other candidate, but the party chairman said I was allowed to put my name back into the frame if I wanted to."

Mr Oakley added that he was pleased that Tendring Council is working to tackle deprivation in Jaywick and added that if he is elected as MP he would want to work with the council to tackle the area's issues.

Anthony Finnegan-Butler, chairman of Clacton Ukip, added: "Unfortunately when Jeff went before vetting at the NEC there was a problem with one of his twitter accounts.

“I was told he couldn’t stand. He appealed and the appeal was turned down.

“Because Paul had been at the hustings and had been democratically voted on, it was only right to pick the number two.

“He has not been parachuted in – he was put before the party electorate.”

Other confirmed candidates for the Clacton seat include David Grace (Lib Dem), Natasha Osben (Lab), Caroline Shearer (Ind), Chris Southall (Green) and Giles Watling (Con).