John Rees-Evans today apologised for making the anecdote public

A Ukip parliamentary candidate who sensationally claimed a “homosexual donkey” had raped his horse is standing to become leader of his party.

John Rees-Evans claimed in December 2014 that he was forced to intervene after his stallion had been accosted by another animal.

He made the comments to protesters outside a campaign office in Merthyr Tydfil when he was confronted over claimed by a fellow party members that “some homosexuals prefer sex with animals”.

Mr Rees-Evans responded at the time: “Actually, I’ve witnessed that. I’ve got a horse and it was there in the field. And a donkey came up, which was male, and I’m afraid tried to rape my horse.”

The former soldier said his stallion had bitten the “homosexual donkey” in defence and that he himself had also intervened.

Mr Rees-Evans, who ran as Ukip’s candidate for the Cardiff South and Penarth constituency in May’s general election, said he believed “people are actually interested in why I’m standing and the vision I have”.

He also apologised for the donkey anecdote, telling the BBC’s Daily Politics programme: “It was a bit of playful banter with a mischievous activist, I’m sorry if I offended anyone in doing that.

“I concede it was a mistake to be playful with an activist in a street. The fact is I’m not a politician. The guy was just asking me questions in the  street. It was an error of judgment.”

Mr Rees-Evans also told the same programme that reports he had carried a handgun around an IKEA in Bulgaria in case it was attacked by terrorists were “an embellishment”.

“That particular day I was doing some training, which is quite normal in Bulgaria. I do speed pistol shooting. I was trained by the British army to operate weapons, it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money if I don’t maintain those skills, of course,” he said.

“It simply wasn’t safe to hand [the gun] over to the security and I had some things that I had to get. That little story about laying siege to the building – quite simply, they said to me the reason they don’t allow weapons to go in there was in case there was an attack – and I said, surely you want law abiding people to be armed if people are going to come in here to attack you?”

He added that further claims he had set up a “secure compound” around his home were “entirely exaggerated”.

“A secure compound simply means a garden with a wall, which I’m sure you have if you have a garden,” he said.

Mr Rees-Evans pledged to unite the party, which is currently stricken by infighting.

“Ukip is a party of fighters and what I’m proposing to do is direct all that aggression towards the enemy,” he said.

“The enemy is any kind of politics in Britain that doesn’t represent the will of the people – the politics that puts people into positions of power, to pursue their own agendas, rather than the agenda that the British people give them.”

He joins Paul Nuttal, Suzanne Evans, and Raheem Kassam as a candidate in the leadership race.

The contest was triggered following Diane James’s resignation after just over a week as leader of the party; she in turn replaced Nigel Farage

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