The Brexit Party says it stands behind one of its UK election candidates embroiled in a row over his membership of a Luftwaffe-inspired heavy metal band.
Dr Graham Cushway is an army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and holds a doctorate in history.
He is also a heavy metal guitarist for Stuka Squadron, a band billing themselves as “the greatest metal act consisting entirely of undead pilots of the Luftwaffe the world has ever seen”.
Dr Cushway has drawn criticism for his membership of the band since he was announced as the Brexit Party’s election candidate in Brighton Kemptown.
Stuka Squadron perform in black leather coats and military-style hats, with the band’s ethos billed as “vampire warriors who have fought through the ages on innumerable battlefields”.
But though its outfits were inspired by German Luftwaffe pilots, the band has denied having any political message.
Speaking to the PA News Agency, a spokesman for the Brexit Party – which is headed by Nigel Farage – expressed regret that Dr Cushway was being criticised for being in Stuka Squadron.
They said: “He’s fought in two wars and he’s quite a successful metal guitarist.
“To suggest that he is in any way associated with that which people are trying to associate him with is just silly.”
Asked about the band’s Luftwaffe-inspired aesthetic, the spokesman said: “You have to draw a distinction between art and life.
“The Brexit Party is happy to stand behind Dr Cushway and his candidature – though maybe not his taste in music.”
In a statement on the Stuka Squadron Facebook page, the band wrote: “Stuka Squadron is – and always was – solely AN ACT.
“It was intended to be shocking and un-PC at the outset, although this desire waned as it increased in popularity.
“The band is not intended to convey any political message. There is no political agenda and the band members have always represented a cross-section of political opinion.
“No band member has ever been affiliated to any extreme right or left wing movement, has or had any interest in or sympathy for extreme politics.
“The intention was to portray Luftwaffe pilots. However the band’s own style is intended only to vaguely evoke the subject.”
The band said that all items of costume are “entirely bogus” and that any appearance of genuine World War Two-era symbols is “purely accidental and the result of random early purchases”.
They continued: “A skull insignia seen in some photographs is a reference to the band Slayer.
“The band’s look is NOT intended to portray the SS or any other specific military unit from any era.”