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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 April, 2005, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
Protest after candidate arrested
Nikki Sinclaire
Nikki Sinclaire was released after two hours
About 50 people demonstrated outside a Birmingham police station after a West Midlands UKIP election candidate was arrested for interrupting a debate.

Nikki Sinclaire was held after going into an event held by a gay group at the city's Hippodrome Theatre.

Organisers of "Queer Question Time" said the candidate was taken to Steelhouse Lane police station after refusing to leave the panel's table.

Ms Sinclaire, who is gay, said it was "ironic" she was treated in such a way.

The 36-year-old candidate for the Black Country seat of Halesowen and Rowley Regis was released without charge at about 2200 BST on Monday, after spending two hours in custody.

She stood at the panel table at the front of the theatre and said she would only move if the police took her away
Steve Ball

She told BBC News: "I think the police were rather embarrassed. It's not the sort of thing they want to be doing."

She said her problem was not with the police but with the organisers of the event, the Birmingham Pride Community Trust.

Ms Sinclaire added: "I think it's important to remember I am a parliamentary candidate and I don't expect to be arrested for debating.

"For a group of people who have been discriminated against for decades, for them to discriminate themselves... it's a bit ironic isn't it?"

'Publicity stunt'

The meeting was held to give the gay community the chance to question local candidates from the three main parties.

About 100 people turned up to listen to Clare Short for Labour, Andrew Mitchell for the Conservatives and Richard Brighton for the Liberal Democrats.

Trust spokesman Steve Ball said: "She (Ms Sinclaire) wasn't invited to sit on the panel. In the end we decided only to invite the three main parties.

"She stood at the panel table at the front of the theatre and said she would only move if the police took her away."

He added that he thought the subsequent police station protest was a "publicity stunt", a claim which Ms Sinclaire denies.

Also standing for election in the Halesowen and Rowley Regis constituency is Sylvia Heal for Labour, Les Jones for the Conservatives and Martin Turner for the Liberal Democrats.



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