The two people fighting for the chance to become the UK's first Green MP have clashed over comments made about the Holocaust.

Keith Taylor, convenor of the Green group on Brighton and Hove City Council, said his rival, the Green MEP Caroline Lucas, had been "insensitive" and shown a "lack of judgement" in her statement comparing climate change sceptics to Holocaust deniers.

Dr Lucas made the controversial analogy in an attempt to draw attention to the perils of climate change.

But she was condemned by Jewish groups, a Holocaust survivor and Holocaust memorial campaigners for drawing an inappropriate comparison.

Her comments caused a storm when the story was published on The Argus website, where comments have been posted both attacking and defending the MEP.

Coun Taylor, who is fighting Dr Lucas to be selected as prospective parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion, said: "While Caroline is innocent of racism, some would say that using the analogy of Holocaust denial is insensitive and calls into question her judgement - especially in view of the city's Jewish community, which is one of the largest in the country.

"The Green Party has always a good relationship with the city's Jewish community which I am determined to preserve. Caroline's remarks have significantly drawn attention away from the threat of global warming, which is the clear and present danger we should all be focusing on."

In the 2001 census 3,342 people in Brighton and Hove registered themselves as Jewish, making the city's recorded Jewish population the 15th biggest in the country.

Dr Lucas said she was "surprised" by Coun Taylor's reaction. She said: "I can't believe that anyone who has genuinely read what I said in full can misinterpret it. I am very heartened that when I last checked the majority of comments on The Argus website actually supported what I said and perfectly well understood that what I was alluding to was the fact that just as it is absurd and unacceptable to deny the Holocaust, so it is to deny the reality of climate change.

"Of course it is a sensitive issue but the reality of climate change is that we are facing a situation where literally millions of people across the world could lose their lives if we don't act now and as long as the media continues to give disproportionate air time to climate deniers they're never going to build the political momentum that we need to stave the worst of climate change."

She added that she lies awake at night worrying that the world is "sleep walking towards catastrophe." She has apologised for any offence. She said: "I didn't feel I was undermining the Holocaust at all. I am genuinely sorry people have been offended."

Until recently Coun Taylor and Dr Lucas were both principal speakers of the national Green Party, but Coun Taylor lost his place in a ballot of party members last November.

Coun Taylor has been the Green Party candidate for Brighton Pavilion in the last two General Elections, and last year increased his share of the vote from nine to 22 per cent.

The constituency is tipped to be the most likely in the country to go Green.

The prospective candidate will be decided by a ballot of Brighton Pavilion Green Party members on July 17.

Some members have complained of "in-fighting and bickering" within the party. Dr Lucas told The Argus last month she did not believe it was democratic to "brief journalists divisively while internal democratic procedures are under way".Have your say on the row below.