Eastleigh’s Ukip election candidate has found herself in the media spotlight after a Twitter gaffe provoked a storm of protest on the social media network.
Patricia Culligan has apologised for the offending tweet – since deleted – that erroneously suggested Liverpool Lib Dem candidate Paul Childs had ‘deliberately ‘ infected himself with HIV – which is untrue.
Culligan said her intention was to highlight the cost of HIV treatment after Ukip leader Nigel Farage had brought up the issue of ‘Health Tourism’ during the recent leaders TV debate.
Culligan said she’d confused Mr. Childs with another Lib Dem candidate -Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett – who, as a result of an interview on online news website Buzzfeed News, had been reported in articles in the press, including the Mail Online, as having ‘deliberately’ or ‘intentionally’ contracted HIV as a consequence of homophobic bullying and resulting low self esteem.
Culligan has told Eastleigh News:
“I made a stupid mistake then compounded that with clumsy words for which I issued an unreserved apology tweet.
The context was a reaction after Nigel Farage’s debate comments about health tourism with seriously infectious tourists coming to the UK demanding costly free NHS treatment.
Of course, this context was lost on Twitter – I acted in haste.”
Culligan went on to say:
“I have always said that free NHS treatment should be fully available to all our residents whatever the cost or the condition.
I’ve spent decades supporting victims with a wide range of problems including this condition as a friend, social worker and a lecturer with young people.
I’ve also always championed the equal rights of the LBGT community and I abhor all discrimination and homophobia.”
Paul Childs has told news website Buzzfeed that he is taking legal advice over the controversial tweet which he described as “deeply insulting”.
“I’m not at all convinced by her apology. She only did it when she was approached by a journalist, and the party told her to remove it. The defence that she misread doesn’t stick. Maybe I can suggest an HIV charity for a sizable donation to help her apology seem more convincing?
“She also needs to apologise to the HIV-positive people of Eastleigh”
Last night Culligan insisted :
“I’m not afraid to speak out on behalf of Eastleigh’s residents and NHS users about the unacceptable cost of Health Tourism.
“I know many voters, gay and straight, feel the same way and I’m so grateful for the immense support I’ve received from so many who know that I’m someone who will always stand up for decent services for all. “