Gerard Batten: 'proud to support veterans'

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Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer has attacked UKIP Leader Gerard Batten describing him as a member of the "far-right" who is "hijacking the war against the persecution of veterans".  
The Tory MP Mr Mercer failed to attend a demonstration held by Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans (Original) on Good Friday in London. The veterans group were protesting the prosecution of ‘Soldier F’ – who now faces murder charges over the Bloody Sunday shootings. The Plymouth MP claims that he didn't attend because Gerard Batten spoke at the event. 

Veterans campaigners have slammed Mr Mercer's comments including Roy Brinkley, a founding member of the protest organisers Justice for  Northern Ireland Veterans (Original).

Mr Brinkley said,
"Justice For Northern Ireland Veterans (Original) is a non-party political organisation that invites politicians from all parties, so long as they support the troops. Mr Batten is someone who supports justice for our Northern Ireland veterans.
"Mr Mercer has shot himself in the foot with a cannon with these comments. It is fascinating that Mr Mercer said he didn't come because of Mr Batten's attendance, yet he was not told about any of the other invited attendees beforehand. Either way, Mr Mercer could have attended our demonstration in his Plymouth constituency held on the same day, but he was absent from that as well. 
"Last year, my colleagues and I attended a Defence Committee meeting which Mr Mercer left at the end without taking the time to speak to veterans, leaving General Sir Nick Carter and Dr Julian Lewis to speak to us. This did not fill us with confidence, and Mr Mercer's attack on Mr Batten today has lowered our estimation of him further."
UKIP Leader Gerard Batten said,
"I am getting absolutely sick to death of this black propaganda branding UKIP and myself as 'far-right'. Especially by someone like Mr Mercer who doesn't support the people they should, and when I support them this is the abuse I get. 
"Mr Mercer is part of a government and a political system that is overseeing the prosecution and the persecution of veterans for events of nearly fifty years ago, while IRA terrorists and murderers are let off scot-free. They are overseeing the merger of our armed forces into the emerging EU Army, which will happen anyway, even if Brexit takes place.
"UKIP is proud to support our veterans, and we call on the UK government to halt the persecution of men who have given so much in defence of our country."
UKIP Leader Gerard Batten sent a message regarding The Sun's coverage of the story and Mr Mercer's comments below: