24 FEBRUARY 2001, Page 29

Sked's riposte

From Mr Alan Sked Sir: Just three points in reply to Christopher Booker's bizarre if hilarious letter (17 February).

1. He claims that I was 'chucked out' as leader of UKIP. But by whom? The only people with the power to do this were the NEC, but they gave me a unanimous vote of confidence two weeks before I resigned. In fact, they had no idea I was intending to go. I simply left behind two letters wishing them the best of luck and appointing a new leader and new party secretary. Both appointments were accepted. Does Mr Booker believe this would have happened if they had chucked me out? After I left, the next round of NEC elections took place. All of those successfully returned by party members were — bar one — my supporters. I merely record this as a professional historian in the interests of truth.

2. Mr Booker's relationship with the , truth seems rather shaky. He boasts that he can learn more about the European Parliament from those who do not attend its committee meetings than from those who do. This is a rather strange methodology for a self-styled 'investigative journalist' to employ, but it is clearly one that explains Mr Booker's poor command of facts.

3. Mr Booker claims that he has 'checked out' the Farage-Deavin meeting. He can't have, since his account differs substantially from the affidavit Farage swore for the Times when he attempted to sue it. Has he seen this document? Or has he merely accepted the latest — fifth? — version of events? Mr Booker should beware. His reputation as a professional journalist is now in jeopardy.

Alan Sked

London WC2