UKIP’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Keighley said he was “shocked” to hear a former party spokesman was behind a kidnapping.

Paul Latham was responding to news Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Bhutto, who has since resigned from the party, was part of a gang that led a high-profile kidnapping in Pakistan in 2004.

The BBC revealed this week Bhutto, from Leeds, was jailed for seven years by a UK court in 2005, after admitting being the leader of the kidnap gang.

Mr Latham said: “I’ve met him before while campaigning locally, but never had a conversation with him in terms of his background. I found him to be perfectly charming, so all this is a complete revelation to me. “He spoke at the Hilton Hotel in Bradford last September.”

Bhutto, 35, was forced to repay a £56,000 ransom payment when he appeared in court.