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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 23:03 GMT 00:03 UK
Tebbit secret agent claim
Former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Tebbit has called for a public inquiry into allegations that agents from the UK security services have infiltrated the anti-European UK Independence Party (UKIP).
Lord Tebbit told the BBC he believed two former intelligence service agents had joined the party which advocates the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.
Lord Tebbit told the BBC: "A chap came to me and said the UK Independence Party has been infiltrated by the British intelligence services and then he gave me two names of people.
"From various ways I came to the conclusion that I was absolutely and completely certain that these people, although they had left the service and the Foreign Office some years earlier, in fact had been intelligence agents."
Lord Tebbit said he had contacted one of the men who had denied the allegation when it was put to him.
Nigel Farage, UKIP spokesman, said: "Who is to say whether we were infiltrated by the security services."
Wider electoral concerns
Lord Tebbit, who had hinted at the allegations in BBC TV's Breakfast with Frost last Sunday, has highlighted the claims in this week's edition of the Spectator magazine.
The BBC's political editor Andrew Marr says the claims illustrate how concerned the Conservative Party is about the impact UKIP might have on its electoral fortunes.
He says that concerns are growing because UKIP is fielding candidates against fairly eurosceptic Tory candidates in marginal constituencies.
Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman, Alastair Campbell, played down the significance of the story, saying that the real issue of the day was the Labour Party's education manifesto.
He said: "There is a real hunger amongst the public to hear the views of the political parties on the serious issues of this election. And that hunger is by no means being satisfied at the moment."
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