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West End Extra - by TOM FOOT
Published: 31 October 2008
Conservatives hit by mass defection to UKIP

NORTH Westminster Conservatives are in disarray after their entire Harrow Road branch jumped ship to the UK Independence Party amid discrimination claims.
Former refugee Jasna Badzak, the chairman of the Harrow Road ward association, claimed she was told by a ­party agent that she could not progress in the Conservative Party because of her background.
The accusation is strongly rejected by the Westminster North Conservative Association (NWCA), which has carried out an internal investigation.
Chairwoman Amanda Sayers said: “Any indication that this association takes decisions on the basis of ethnicity or background will be taken extremely seriously.”
But despite the assurances, Ms Badzak resigned on Friday and was immediately followed by Susan Jacobs, the party’s vice chairman, membership secretary Drgomir Mikulic and the secretary Luli Beqiri.
They are each adopting the same roles for the newly formed Westminster North Association of the UK Independence Party.
Ms Badzak, who has a business Masters degree at the University of Westminster, said: “I have been told by the party agent that people like me can forget about progressing in the Conservative Party. This is not just locally, but nationally.
“It is just jobs for the boys. Unfortunately, I did not go to private school. I did not go to Oxbridge. Well I have said no thank you – this is not the way to do things. People should be judged on their ability.”
Ms Badzak, who lives in Harrow Road and works as a financial analyst, fled the former Yugoslavia in 1993. She ?has a 10-year old son at a Westminster primary school. In the Harrow Road ward 2005 by-election, she came second with 305 votes in the Harrow Road Labour stronghold.
A London UKIP spokesman said Ms Badzak had joined the party because of the Conservatives’ wavering stance on Europe and that the party had fallen out of touch with its voters.
WNCA chairman Amanda Sayers said: “WNCA’s greatest strength is in its diversity. We have friends, members, activists and candidates from a variety of backgrounds, with differing levels of education, drawn from throughout our community.
“As soon as Ms Badzak made her concerns known, immediate and decisive action was taken.
“The matter was investigated thoroughly and every party was given the opportunity to put forward their side of the story during a course of interviews with our association officers.
“I am absolutely satisfied that these allegations have been shown to be completely unfounded.”

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