UKIP MEP Roger Helmer has dismissed accusations of homophobia following his selection to contest the Newark by-election.

The 70-year-old’s candidacy was announced last night by the party.

Asked if some of his views regarding homosexuality were controversial, Mr Helmer told ITV News: “They were a couple of peripheral comments made more than 10 years ago. The world has changed, it’s a new place now.”

Last week he found himself at war with The Sun after the paper accused him of being a “bigot” over his views on homosexuality.

“Different people may have different tastes,” he said. “You may tell me that you don’t like Earl Grey tea. That may be a minority view but you are entitled not to like it if you don’t like it.”

The paper mentioned that Mr Helmer had said it was okay for people to find homosexuality “distasteful if not viscerally repugnant”.

It quoted his remarks made in 2000 while a Conservative MEP – in a pamphlet entitled ‘Straight Talking on Europe’.

He said: “The homosexual lobby wants to be accepted as a ‘valid alternative lifestyle’.

“I will argue homosexual behaviour is abnormal and undesirable.”

Asked last night if he stood by his comments, he replied: “Some people dislike it and this is a fact. Some people do all sorts of things, that doesn’t mean I commend them.”

Mr Helmer insisted he was “liberal and tolerant” about homosexuality and has “no interest in telling consenting adults what they may or may not do”.

Last year, UKIP leader Nigel Farage admitted Mr Helmer went ”too far” by drawing a link between same-sex marriage and incest in a blog.

Mr Helmer had written: “If two men have a right to marry, how can we deny the same right to two siblings? Are we to authorise incest?”