Ukip has attacked reports that claimed an internal party row had broken out over an Orthodox candidate’s refusal to shake hands with women.
Lubavitch Shneur Odze is on the party’s shortlist in the north-west region for the European Parliament elections in May.
The Times reported on Monday that party activists were offended by his refusal to shake hands and that he had been banned from some Ukip branches for “difficult behaviour”.
Fred McGlade, a former Ukip regional organiser, claimed he had quit the party in protest at Mr Odze’s candidacy, claiming that his approach to women would alienate voters.
But Ukip hit back, with party chairman Steve Crowther claiming critics were “rude” and “wrong” to attack colleagues’ religious beliefs.
A spokeswoman also attacked the media reports and said: “It’s shocking that being an Orthodox Jew and running for political position is a story.”
Mr McGlade left the party a number of weeks ago and his departure was not linked to Mr Odze, the JC understands.
Mr Odze declined to comment on the row but posted a tweet thanking people for their support. He would be Britain’s first Jewish MEP for five years.