NEW North Wales regional AM Mandy Jones has left the UKIP group in the National Assembly, blaming its “toxic atmosphere” and accusing it of attempted bullying.

Mrs Jones replaced Nathan Gill, who resigned from the Senedd as a UKIP Assembly Member, only last week.

She said: “The UKIP group of AMs met on Monday evening and basically they told me to sack all my staff and if I didn’t I couldn’t be in the UKIP group.

“My staff had worked for Nathan Gill. That was the reason they wanted them to go. I took them on because they had been recommended for their hard work and talent.”

The 57-year-old former shepherd from Corwen said: “There is a totally toxic atmosphere in the group and they tried to bully me.

“I am not going to be bullied. I stood my ground, stuck to my principles and stood by my staff.

“I am my own person and I am strong person and I am here to represent the people of North Wales, not to be bullied.”

However, a spokesman for UKIP Wales defended the group’s actions and said: “After discussions with Mandy Jones, AM for North Wales, we have collectively and unanimously decided that she will not be joining the UKIP Group in the National Assembly.

“Despite being asked by all five members of the group not to do so, she has chosen to employ individuals in her office who are either members of, or have recently campaigned actively for, other parties, or both.

“They have been personally and publicly abusive to some of the UKIP AMs and sought deliberately to undermine UKIP Wales. T

“Their behaviour and attitude makes it impossible to work with Mandy Jones on a basis of confidence and trust.”