The UK Independence Party “knowingly” let homophobes, racists and convicted criminals stand for election in 2015, leaked documents have revealed.

The Times reported that the party allowed 14 candidates who were flagged for violent pasts run for election last May, including some who were found guilty of assaults.

According to internal vetting records leaked to the newspaper, a further 23 candidates had been identified as expressing or supporting racist, homophobic, Islamophobic or sexist views .

The documents – from the party’s candidate vetting process  – also appear to suggest the party was fully aware of Parliamentary candidate Alan Craig’s advocacy for ‘gay cure’ therapy, before PinkNews first raised the issue last year.

The newspaper reports that such candidates were initially blocked from standing under the vetting process – but appealed against the ruling.

A number of candidates who went ahead appeared to have shared posts on social media advocating far-right groups such as Britain First and the English Defence League – which UKIP officially claims to have banned.

In total, more than 200 candidates were blocked by vetting head David Soutter – of whom 115 successfully appealed.

A UKIP spokeperson said: “Our candidates team looked at thousands of candidates last year and generally associations such as this would raise a red flag. Discretion was held by the then head of candidates, Mr Soutter.”

Mr Soutter claimed previously: “One of the things that UKIP has lacked as a party — and looking at it the way I’ve been able to from the outside — discipline is one of the things that’s really been missing.

“Half my job is spent not finding good candidates to stand, it is weeding out the lunatics, the people who shouldn’t be there.”