A SALISBURY school headmaster has backed his students' decision not to allow UKIP's European candidate to sit on the panel of its election hustings after the party's defence of his "rape tweet".

Taking place tonight, the event hosted by the Bishop Wordsworth’s School's Politics Society invited members of the Conservative, Labour, Brexit, Liberal Democrat, Green, and Change UK parties.

But UKIP were not invited to sit on the panel.

This, headmaster Stuart Smallwood says, was because the students did not agree with the party's defence of local candidate Carl Benjamin's "rape tweet", which is now being investigated by police.

Read more: Fresh police probe into UKIP Wiltshire MEP hopeful Carl Benjamin's rape tweet

Another factor was the party's "increasing association of the party with hard-right and intolerant views"

Headmaster Stuart Smallwood said: "BWS is very proud of the work of the Sixth Form Politics Society in organising this hustings at such short notice.

"The School has been keen to ensure a wide range of views is represented from different parties, with the Brexit Party, Lib Dems, Labour, Conservatives, Change UK and Greens all sending candidates.

"The PolSoc hustings is always the biggest event in Salisbury at election time – 450 attended in 2015, and UKIP have always been invited before.

"The School made the decision not to invite UKIP this time for a number of reasons – their low polling ratings and the defection of nearly all their MEPs, including the two elected from Wiltshire in 2014, mostly to the Brexit party, was a factor.

"Also significant was the increasing association of the party with hard-right and intolerant views and individuals such as Tommy Robinson. But the key factor was the rape comments made by Carl Benjamin, a candidate in our own region, and the defence of these by other UKIP representatives including its leader.

"If one of our students was found to have made these comments on social media, they would be excluded, regardless of context – we hope we get across to all our students that 'rape jokes' are never acceptable regardless of context, and feel it is reasonable to apply that standard to groups we choose to invite into school."

The event, which is free for anyone to attend, takes place at 7pm this evening.