An Independent candidate in Blackburn says she has refused to join Craig Murray's camp after they 'asked her to pull out of the race'.

Natasha Shah has also spoken out against what she called a ‘dirty’ campaign, where she felt some people were using 'religion and spiritual coercion' to gain favour votes within certain community groups in Blackburn.

She said: “I visited the offices of the Craig Murray camp and I was asked to step down.

"They said with my support they would be in a better position.

“I decided, having had the discussion, that our values did not really align with theirs. 

"It was not for me and I would be letting all those people down who have been supporting us.

“I feel there were people who simply wanted us to back down without giving us genuine assurances.”

Fellow independent Altaf 'Tiger' Patel has already given up on his campaign and asked his supporters to instead vote for Mr Murray in Thursday's poll.

She said she had not been 'officially' approached by other parties.

Natasha Shah had stood as an independent in the Mill Hill and Moorgate ward in the local elections, and said she took the decision to compete again at the national elections to highlight the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and to oppose stances taken by the Labour and Conservative parties on the issue.

She is one of four candidates - fellow independents Altaf 'Tiger' Patel and Adnan Hussain, plus Workers Party candidate Craig Murray - whose campaigns have focused on the issues in Gaza.

Since moving to Blackburn she has taken up a number of active roles to help people from all backgrounds and cultures, and helped set up three volunteer groups dedicated towards disability groups, domestic violence and the LGBTQ community.

She felt her decisions to support the LGBTQ community in the past year may have been one of the reasons she feels some organisations may have ‘ignored’ her.

She said: “The past few weeks have been difficult and I think some of the opposition are using imams and religious people to get their message across.

“I think we were ignored on that aspect because of the campaigns I have managed.

“People are just not open to it. It is quite hypocritical of some of the campaigns.

"I was told on one occasion by someone that I should not be taking part as I am a woman.

“Others kept saying you are ‘splitting the vote’.”

However, she said meeting people on the streets had been a positive experience for her.

Natasha added: “It was lovely meeting people and the response I got was wholly positive. I have been surprised by the people I have met.

“I am glad I decided to compete and the principles for what I stood.”

Worker’s Party candidate Craig Murray said: “After Tiger Patel stood down in my favour, Natasha Shah did come to my office at my invitation to discuss whether we might be able to unify the pro-Palestinian vote further.

“She was accompanied by her husband and three supporters. I thought it was a perfectly friendly conversation. 

“I fully support her right to stand to highlight issues she and her supporters feel important.”

The full list of candidates on the Blackburn ballot paper is: Kate Hollern – Labour Party; Jamie McGowan - Conservative Party; Adam Waller-Slack – Liberal Democrats; Denise Morgan - Green Party; Tommy Temperley – Reform UK; Craig Murray – Workers Party of Britain; Adnan Hussain - Independent; Natasha Shah - Independent; and Tiger Patel, Independent.