Nigel Farage has hit back at criticism from the Archbishop of Canterbury over his suggestion that women would face predatory sex attacks from migrants if Britain chose to remain in the European Union.
The UKIP leader said Justin Welby had not actually read what he had said and insisted he had chosen his comments, in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, very carefully.
"Clearly the Archbishop read a headline in a newspaper and not what it actually said," Farage told the BBC. "What I said was what happened in Cologne on New Year's Eve and subsequent attacks were a real issue in Germany and in Sweden and could become an issue in this referendum."
He insisted: "I have said nothing out of line at all."
Farage pointed to the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany and said the Cardinal had used far stronger terms than him. Reinhold Marx has called for a reduction in the number of refugees in Germany because the country "can't take in all the world's needy".
Welby on Tuesday told MPs on the home affairs select committee that Farage's remarks were an "inexcusable pandering to people's worries and prejudices". He added he condemned the comments "without hesitation".
He said: "That's giving legitimisation to racism... we can't legitimise that.
"Fear is a pastoral issue – deal with it by recognising it, standing alongside and providing answers to it. What that is is accentuating fear for political gain and that is absolutely inexcusable."
But Farage insisted he had "no desire in any way to stoke up any fears". Pushed on the issue in a referendum debate on ITV on Tuesday night, Farage said Remain campaigners were "coming for him" and had wanted an excuse to attack him.
Welby was the first Archbishop of Canterbury to give evidence to a House of Commons select committee as he answered questions on migration and asylum seekers.
He insisted Britain was "not too full" and could take more migrants but we must "think very, very hard about doing it.
"You can do the right thing in such a wrong way it becomes the wrong thing," he said.
The Archbishop stood by his comments in March that it was legitimate to fear mass migration.
"We never serve ourselves well when we neglect fear," Welby told MPs. "The answer to fear is not to say it is improper to fear but to recognise it and the causes of that fear."
He added: "I fully accept there is a burden on communities. The answer to that burden is one has to provide specific extra resources to communities affected."