Party broke Farage's promise to repay expenses – ex-Reform candidate

Tony Mack
Tony Mack is now running as an independent candidate in Clacton [Ben Schofield/BBC]

Nigel Farage offered Reform UK's former candidate in Clacton a "very big role" in his campaign team, a salaried job in the constituency and repayment of thousands of pounds of expenses in return for his endorsement, the BBC has been told.

But Tony Mack, who was asked to step aside for Mr Farage, said none of what was promised has been delivered.

He said he had spent £6,000 on his campaign and had not yet seen "a penny" reimbursed.

Reform UK's spokesperson said the situation was "very sad" and the party "operated in good faith".

Nigel Farage addressing a rally in Clacton
Nigel Farage held a rally in Clacton the day after saying he would lead Reform UK and stand in the constituency [Jamie Niblock/BBC]

Mr Mack, a psychotherapist and former black cab driver, was selected as Reform UK's Clacton candidate in October 2023.

He said he found out Mr Farage intended to stand in the Essex seat shortly before a press conference announcing the move on Monday 3 June.

In a phone call that evening Mr Mack said he was told by Mr Farage that he would have a "very big role in the campaign" and that the party would "recompense" Mr Mack's election expenses.

Mr Farage also allegedly said Mr Mack would have a "salaried job" in the constituency, if he won the election.

The Reform UK leader also allegedly told Mr Mack to "put his suit on" and join him at a rally in Clacton the following day.

Mr Mack, 56, released a statement endorsing Mr Farage that morning, while also expressing his "disappointment" at no longer being Reform UK's candidate.

At a rally near the town's pier, Mr Farage thanked "Tony McIntyre" who he said had "very gracefully stood aside" and would play a "big, key, leading role in this campaign".

Tony Mack at Nigel Farage's rally in Clacton
Mr Farage singled out Mr Mack for thanks during a rally but called him "Tony McIntyre" [Jamie Niblock/BBC]

In the days that followed Mr Mack felt the alleged promises were not being fulfilled, though he says he was offered a role running the postal campaign.

He told the BBC: "It became very clear to me very, very quickly that after my statement was given in support of Nigel, I was being ostracised from the campaign and from any of the campaign team going forward.

"I didn’t really want to believe that because the man was still a political hero of mine."

Mr Mack, who announced he was standing as an independent candidate on Saturday 8 June, added that he was "devastated", "disappointed" and "fearful for democracy in our country".

Over more than six months as a Reform UK candidate he said he had spent around £6,000 of his own money on campaigning, including printing costs, merchandise and events.

"I’ve seen nothing of that [returned], absolutely nothing," he added.

However, during the press conference when he announced he was standing, Mr Farage said Mr Mack had known for "many months" that it was a "possibility" he could be replaced as the party's candidate.

Mr Mack also said he had experienced intimidation and threats since choosing to stand as an independent, some of which he has raised with the police.

He said he had received several messages, which "all mention the same words: 'if Nigel loses by 10 or 50 votes, it will be you to blame' and 'you want to be careful' and 'you should think about that, and the people around you'". There is no suggestion that Mr Farage was behind the messages.

"There’s a lot of vitriol out there and it seems to have only got worse since Nigel took over the party," Mr Mack added.

Reform UK's spokesperson said: "The situation is very sad. It's very sad that things have worked out the way they have. He is a good bloke.

"I spoke to [Tony Mack] six months earlier. He said 'if the big man wants the seat, of course he could have it'.

"We were perfectly happy to pay for the costs of anything he had spent, of course we were.

"I don't know what he expected – things moved very fast.

"We operated in good faith. I'm not in the world of stitching people up, nor is Nigel."

You can find a full list of candidates for the Clacton constituency here.

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