A leader of the anti-migrant group Defend Europe is set to speak to Ukip's youth wing at their annual party conference in Sheffield. Martin Sellner, who is also the co-leader of the European Génération Identitaire group, which opposes migration into Europe and sees it as a threat, will speak on Saturday 2 September at the Young Independence's Horizons conference.
Sellner became known across Europe over the summer after he chartered a boat to monitor the activities of charities working in the Mediterranean to rescue migrants attempting the perilous sea journey from northern Africa to the shores of Europe.
He confirmed the announcement in a tweet saying: "I'm honoured to speak at the @YIofficial conference this weekend. Looking forward to the boat party afterwards ;) #defendeurope." However, his appearance at the conference, which had been announced widely on social media, was deleted by the group from their Facebook and Twitter pages.
Defend Europe say that they "overwatch the doings of the NGOs, disrupt the human trafficking rings by sinking the abandoned boats they leave behind, and intervene when something illegal happens".
They claimed that their mission was a "success" despite the fact that they had to be rescued by one of the NGOs when their boat ran into trouble.
Former deputy chairman of Ukip Suzanne Evans once described the Young Independence group as a far-right lynch mob. Ukip leadership candidate, Anne Marie Waters, who has called for a ban on burqas is also due to appear at the conference.
A spokesperson for anti-racism group Hope Not Hate told the Guardian that Ukip's youth wing "has a history of courting controversy...perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that it would invite Martin Sellner and Ann Marie Waters to speak, who remain fixated with conspiracies around Islam and Muslims."