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UKIP leader Nigel Farage was denigrated by Kerry SmithGetty

UKIP candidate Kerry Smith has apologised for a series of racist and homophobic remarks made during telephone conversations that were recorded.

Smith is a member of Essex County Council and Basildon District Council. He issued his apology just days after being reinstated as the UKIP candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock, one of the party's key target seats for next year's general election.

In a recording of a mobile phone conversation which was sourced by the Mail on Sunday, Smith is said to have verbally abused gay UKIP members as "poofters" and to have referred to a British-Asian woman as a "Chinky bird". He is also reported to have made remarks about shooting residents of Chigwell, Essex in a "peasant hunt".

Kerry said he had been stressed at the time of his comments and that he was taking strong pain killers. He also claimed that the remarks were made two and a half years ago.

"I wish to issue a wholehearted and unreserved apology to those I have offended within the party and anyone else," he said. "At the time of this recording I was considering my resignation due to major management changes, which I have since discovered I completely misread and misunderstood. For the record I was also on a strong morphine-based prescription medication for a back injury."

"For the record I was also on a strong morphine-based prescription medication for a back injury."

Kerry has also accepted that assertions he made during the recordings concerning UKIP leader Nigel Farage as well as and other senior party figures were "completely wrong" and "fuelled by frustrations at the time".

In October Smith was deselected as UKIP candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock.

Neil Hamilton, a former Tory minister and currently UKIP deputy chairman, was also seeking nomination for the seat. However, since Kerry was reinstated Hamilton has endorsed his candidacy.