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Neil Hamilton out as UKIP assembly leader

Neil Hamilton Image copyright Getty Images

Neil Hamilton has been ousted as UKIP group leader in the Welsh Assembly.

The former Conservative MP has been replaced by Caroline Jones.

It comes after a day of wrangling over the Mid and West Wales AM’s future at the helm of the group, and after reports of a heated meeting of the party’s AMs on Wednesday.

Mr Hamilton became leader of the group after he ousted Nathan Gill following the 2016 assembly election.

Sources told BBC Wales that a heated meeting of UKIP AMs took place on Wednesday, which Gareth Bennett was said to have left before it ended when it became apparent that a leadership challenge was on the cards.

There were rumours of a break-away group – backed by Ms Jones, David Rowlands and Michelle Brown – and it initially appeared that Mr Hamilton’s position was safe by mid-Thursday afternoon.

But that unravelled after news emerged of a vote of AMs which installed Ms Jones as leader.

Tensions in the group recently emerged after South Wales Central AM Mr Bennett backed a decision by standards committee to recommend Ms Brown be excluded from the assembly for a week over a racial slur she used in a private phone call.

A statement from Ms Brown when the findings emerged said she was “not likely to take any lessons at all on political correctness, or conduct, from Gareth Bennett”.

Later it emerged that Mr Hamilton’s recommendation for a nomination on to the party’s National Executive Committee was rejected by Ms Brown, Ms Jones and Mr Rowlands.

Mr Hamilton backed Mr Bennett for the nomination, and lost. The rest of the group backed Ms Brown.

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